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Google TV

Turntable.fm + Google TV is Awesome.

I am pretty sure that I'm the lone Google TV fanboy. I love the ability to merge the television with Google Chrome ... and to eventually lay the Android marketplace atop it (currently there are core apps like Pandora, Netflix, etc)>. And I give Google TV a better shot to amass great content and better UI than I do the hardware manufacturers (I have never used the Samsung or Sony appstores that come preinstalled on the TVs). Anyhow, here is another example of why I love Google TV: load Turntable.fm (http://www.turntable.fm) and your friends can share / DJ music throughout your home. And since:

- your TV is likely the home's largest screen - your TV is probably connected to your home's best speakers - and your TV probably sits in an open, social area

It's an excellent, optimal experience!

Haven't tried Turntable.fm yet? Here's a couple nice recaps: - TechCrunch: The New Early Adopter Addiction: Turntable - SAI: The Exclusive Music Site That Already Has Entrepreneurs Buzzing - Andrew Machado (super-fan): Turntable.fm - The Future of Music

Netflix's Fascinating Cancellation Questionnaire

I love Netflix. - They have revolutionized the way we think about movies and media - They have created a slew of new company ideas and models: "the Netflix for XYZ" - They have defined streaming content and challenged a traditional, massive industry - They should be credited with making new platforms and devices desirable: iPhone, Android, Google TV, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Wii, etc - And they are brilliant marketers with a terrific recurring model ... but after years of being a Netflix subscriber, I recently canceled my account. The reason is very simple: Netflix Instant doesn't have enough depth / inventory. We have watched the handful of documentaries that Netflix has (by far their most impressive category) and I even wrote a semi-popular Quora answer to which Instant movies are best: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Man on Wire, The Modernism of Julius Shulman, The King of Kong, The Universe of Keith Haring, Beer Wars, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Food, Inc., Bigger, Stronger, Faster.

But the catalog hasn't expanded. Meanwhile, Comcast and Redbox have delivered great products / experiences (Redbox is a short-term business - but as a consumer it is absolutely delightful, cheap and easy). The future is clearly the Netflix Instant / streaming model - but it requires a worthy catalog to justify ~$100-$175 / year.

So I canceled my account.... with the hope that I will return as the catalog grows. Good news: Netflix keeps your queue and preferences in tact so that restarting is easy. Maybe they shouldn't do that - but I appreciate it and it certainly helps conversions for re-started memberships.

The most interesting part of the cancellation was the questionnaire (shown below in full). The attention to competition is fascinating: Comcast, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, bit torrents, piracy, etc are all mentioned. Also noteworthy are the answers to the question "why are you canceling?" One answer is "I have an Internet usage cap (or monthly download limit) and using Netflix puts me close to or over the limit." Unfortunately, over the next few years, I worry this will be an increasingly selected answer...

It is absolutely worth browsing the questions and available answers:

Amazon Instant Video Good for Google TV

It was my immediate reaction to hearing that Amazon Instant Video would be available: 1. Will it run on my Google TV? (check) 2. How quickly can I cancel my Netflix subscription? (immediately) 3. Does Amazon VOD work on the iPhone / iPad? (no) 4. Should I keep my Netflix subscription? (yes, for now)

I love this timely promotion by Google / Google TV... which is a product I will continue to rave about:

Internet TV Summed Up

Despite being one of the few Google TV fanboys, I thought this Amazon Video On Demand screenshot summed up the space well:

The top of the page represents the good: software accessible via various devices and platforms. And content delivered on-demand, quickly and either free or cheaply.

The bottom (highlighted in green) represents the bad: hardware integration that will be problematic for manufacturers, developers and consequently consumers.

"Watch Instantly on Your TV with VIZIO: Now you can watch thousands of movies and TV shows on select VIZIO HDTVs. Order hit new releases and the latest episodes in HD, right from your couch and begin watching immediately. Learn more."

Anecdotally, this is precisely why I am bullish on Google TV: despite being hardware, it integrates outside the TV and is therefore cross-device. The Google platform allows developers to build better products, work across TV sets and manufacturers, and reach larger audiences.

It's All About the Living Room (2011 Predictions)

To see more of my 2011 tech predictions - click here This will be the year where the internet finally makes it's way into the living room... and I don't mean as a laptop or iPad as you watch television. For many homes, the TV is already the focal point of the living room and it's been a matter of time before the web and the television hook up in an intelligent, simple way. To date, this has mostly been accomplished by bulky solutions geared towards techies: ie connecting a Mac Mini to the television. But all the trends point towards 2011 being the year that the living room begins to go digital in a more mainstream way: - Television prices have gone way down. You can now buy gorgeous, large TVs for under $1,000 (less than many laptops). Those TVs have numerous inputs are are plug-and-play for other connected devices.

- You can spend more and get an internet connected television... which comes equipped with widgets, apps, etc.

- The content is there: Netflix and Pandora and beloved by millions. Along with a growing number of other great apps and content sources (ie: ESPN3, Hulu, Xfinity.tv, etc) - the web plays an important role in your media consumption. This trend will continue in a massive way (which is why folks like Comcast and ESPN are racing to address it).

- External devices are readily available, relatively inexpensive and are easily integrated: Google TV, Boxee, Apple TV, etc.

- The web now runs in the air. Think about most of your daily computing needs (certainly those that would run on the TV): email, browsing, search, light documents, Facebook, etc. All of this can be done from a browser and does not require a fancy machine... thus enabling lightweight 'computers' like the Google TV to be super effective.

- Someone(s) will figure out more compelling ways to watch TV... which is becoming a passive activity (our TV is frequently on but I am rarely ever fully engaged). Google TV is close: the screen-in-screen approach is compelling. The solution may be appearance related (ie Google TV) or perhaps activity (ie GetGlue, Facebook integration, etc). Whatever it looks like - there is lots of opportunity for innovation... and our TV-watching habits encourage it.

Google Advertising Chrome Heavily on Facebook

Chrome is a clear focus for Google. It is growing quickly and taking market share from other web browsers... and it represents a core component of other Google priorities: Google TV, mobile, web speed, apps, etc. Google is now advertising "the world's fastest-growing web browser" on Facebook with a handful of different ad units. Some of the ads promote liking the Chrome Facebook Page (now with over 3.2m fans!) and others promote downloading the "speedy browser built for the modern web".

Google also released a clever website to highlight the power of Chrome and get users familiar with the benefits: 20thingsIlearned.com. Very well done and is prominently featured on the Chrome Installation page:

Coincidentally, September marked Google Chrome's 2nd birthday. Google crafted a couple commemorative graphics for the occasion:

Google TV: Hands On with Sony Blu Ray

So my hiatus was brief... but I will keep this short to stay in spirit!

Today I got the Google TV (Sony's Blu Ray product). It's remarkable. Quick thoughts:

1. Set up is very, very easy.

2. This is truly a merging of internet and television. The 'picture-in-picture' functionality is the most clear example.

3. The UI is super intuitive. No instructions needed - I am sure there are tons of things to discover, but usage is obvious.

4. The ability to integrate with all providers AND use it without changing TV inputs is game-changing.

5. The Sony remote looks clunky... but it isn't. It is intuitive, easy to hold and great to for browsing / content input.

6. It's bad news for universal remotes (like Logitech): this is bluetooth and controls television, cable and Google TV. Unless you buy Logitech's Google TV product, there isn't a need for an expensive supplemental remote.

7. It's a ton of fun. Can't overstate this.

Google Continues Apple Attack: Android 2.2 ('Froyo') & Google TV

Gizmodo has called the Google I/O conference "dizzying" - in part that's because of their several product announcements. In part it is because they are taking direct aim at Apple and, as Gizmodo also says, is "leapfrogging" them. And in part is because Google's Android 2.2 release is dizzingly fast: Introducing Android 2.2 (it's fast):

Android 2.2 compared to the iPad:

Introducing Google TV: