Today brings news that Sony and Google have partnered to make Google’s TV service available in the UK. Google TV set-top boxes will launch in the third week of July for £200-£300. Apple’s TV box currently costs £99.
People will be able to use the Android run devices to browse the internet and access applications through their televisions, as well as watching broadcast TV.
The obvious question is, who is likely to buy it? There are a couple of issues that will impact take up.
Firstly, most people’s experiences of Google is that it does search, maps and documents. Even those few who know Google owns YouTube are likely to think of it as being ‘online’. That’s quite a different proposition from people considering it a hardware creator (unlike Apple with its Apple TV) to which they are willing to give a central role in providing valuable household front room entertainment.
Along with this, will be a concern among many people that it will be complicated to use – a bit ‘geeky’ perhaps. Applications? On TV? Research from Touchpoints 2012 show that only one fifth of people who own internet connected TVs (TVs with apps that people can use to access VoD content) actually use the VoD apps on their TVs. In contrast, just under half of internet connected TV owners use games devices and services such as X-Box and Virgin Media to watch VoD content on their TVs.
Much of this is due to ease of use and people’s willingness to use devices that are already embedded in their television routines. Some of the proof is in the numbers. Touchpoints 2012 shows that only 9% of households own a connected TV, and only 2% of households that do not own one expect to buy one over the next twelve months. In contrast, 42% of households access VoD either through a games device, Sky or Virgin on Demand at least once a month. Like rain running down a road, people find the simplest and quickest routes to get to their destination.
For people who do not own a games device or do not use these services, there is another simple choice to make. Spend £200-£300 for a Google TV set top box, or £250 on an X-Box or a PS3 and get VoD plus games, video, music and photos thrown in?
Of course, this opens up questions about the launch of YouView, but that's for another time.