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The Third Screen for Google

So much has already been written and speculated about the Google/Motorola marriage. Theories range from Google needing to secure IPR to fend off mobile patent suits that now seem to be the flavor of the day (Samsung and Apple going at it worldwide, Apple settled with Nokia, MS got a settlement from HTC and B&N).

The other school of thought is that they needed to consolidate vertically to be able to take the OS forwards in a coordinated manor. It is no secret that the Android offering is a mess. It is a mess for developers who have to create multiple versions of the same app to support all Android versions and devices. It is a mess for consumers that get a different Android depending on what kind of phone they have. Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and others all apply their own customization to Android.

The consensus among the tech community seems to be that Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola’s rich portfolio of 25,000 patents, but what else could have factored their decision?

Maybe it is is the Third Screen for Google..... 

Google TV was announced in May 2010, but received very little traction, mostly because of the restrictions on chipsets. The power of the TV manufacturers was underestimated. Another key ingredient was also missing and that was a way for users to index and display via the google TV UI local content on home storage. One assumption can be made in this regards is that Google did not want to be seen to be enabling the torrent fraternity, but it was a key piece missing. The networks (NBC, CBA, ABC) and other streaming services like Hulu also blocked access to Google TV, so it has been pretty much hobbled from the start.

Also outside of the USA where streaming services are still lacking, the traction off Google TV has been near zero, terrestrial or satellite services still rule.

And then user experience..... just look at the two remotes here, one to control Google TV (left) and then the simplicity of the Boxee remote (right).














The market share Motorola has of the set-top market is 27% of global business and this includes both cable and IP based delivery systems.

Suddenly Google has injected themselves into a new dimension of consumers lives, Globally.

Having a set-top box manufacturer on board will help the company finely tune its hardware and software offering for Google TV – something it’s definitely lacked to date.

And it’s not just the TV either, Motorola Mobility’s current range of video-focused devices includes Televation, a service it sells to third-party companies. It streams live broadcast TV content to a wide range of devices in and around the home via a similarly branded app.

Now, think evolution! Your Set-top box will suddenly be a web PC and TV; but dominated by Google delivery. Not that they do a bad job of most things they do though. But this certainly will change the mobile landscape. Consumers will always prefer unified solutions, that is why to date Apple have done so well leveraging their iTunes ecosystem (and rumors of an Apple branded, iTunes embedded hardware TV are also floating around).

We all now prefer to life our multimedia rich life through the devices we use at home and on the road, from TV-> PC -> Tablet -> Mobile Phone. It is now the race to see who covers that first. It is no longer about stand alone services, we as consumers demand a unified consumption of video, music, photo and now also computing.

Another fact to consider is that the internet is also slowly moving from the traditional eat as much as you like web browsing mode we have used for the past years. The concept of all these App's that seem to excite investors; mostly it is simply creating order from web based information and serving it up in a logical easy to use format. Apps are now even becoming a key function in the desktop computing environment.

So now Google will be able develop unified experiences especially social media interactions; not just to give extensional cross platform and device experience, but it will now also be able to transcend into now consumer segments that previously were not addressable via traditional IT based offerings. So now even your grandmother could be a multimedia savvy, app devouring social butterfly without knowing it.

Whilst TV was certainly not the overriding consideration, Google are certainly striving towards the Coca-Cola distribution model of "a Coke within arms length of any customer", by serving up adverts at every switch-on of a screen. and I am sure the catch phrase to tap into consumers mindshare will be "Android Everywhere"

[Grant Marais]

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