Why Google TV Might Threaten The iPad

I tweeted that the release of Google TV might let Google leap over the iPad. What? How’s that? Some people tweeted questions back, so I thought I’d expand a bit more.

One of the biggest things to me about Google TV is that it will allow people to run Android apps on their televisions. It turns their televisions into computers while also, if it works as promised, still allows them to also easily do what TVs are supposed to do. Watch TV.

Now, it’s well known that more and more people multitask during TV viewing. They’ll have laptops open. Then as smartphones like the iPhone became common, they’d have their phones open. Then comes the iPad, so you have a better bridge between the phone and the computer.

Google TV potentially eliminates all this. You have a single device, the TV. And that’s also the key to me in leaping over the iPad. Everyone has a TV. People spend huge amounts of time on their TVs. If they start running apps on their TVs, I think they’ll want those same apps on their other devices.

If they like the tablet format that the iPad offers, an Android tablet will almost certainly come. That means people can run the same “TV apps” on their tablet. Android phones are already here — and can run those apps. In addition, Google has demonstrated how Android mobile devices can provide some pretty cool “swipe” or “send to” connectivity to an Android-powered TV.

Really, the missing piece is that there aren’t Android laptops or PCs. Instead, Google is promising a different operating systems for computers, Chrome OS. So, don’t expect your favorite Android app to make it to your PC, not as a native app.

Does that mean everything falls apart, with my gut feel on how Google TV might threaten the iPad? Not necessarily. After all, Apple doesn’t make an iPhone/iPad computer either. In other words, apps for the iPad or iPhone don’t run on the Mac.

In summary:

  • Android App = Phone + Tablet + TV = 3 devices
  • iPhone/iPad App = Phone + Tablet = 2 devices

I think the addition of the TV gives Android an edge. Not immediately. We don’t even have an Android tablet out, and I expect the iPad will continue to attract huge numbers of users in the near term.

But long term, the Android ecosystem just got significantly larger. What would be especially killer would be a true Android PC. But don’t expect that.

At a press conference today, Google execs declined to name a “winner” between that somewhat rival Android / Chrome OS projects within their own company. Andy Rubin, who leads Android and mobile at Google, said it was “unfair” to even try and declare a winner, since Chrome OS hasn’t even been released.

Maybe. But then again, it kind of supports the idea that Android has already won. Last year, we wondered when the first Chrome OS netbooks would come out. Now, the waiting has shifted to when will the first Android tablets appear. Android’s there, now, so device makers will go with that.

Whether Android stands up as a full-blown computer operating system remains to be seen. But then again, Chrome OS has never been positioned as doing all that the Apple, Windows or Linux-variant operating systems can do, either.

Then again, I’m hardly an expert in computer operating system development and usage. These are my gut feelings. I could be completely wrong.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Features: Analysis | Google: TV


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • nathanziarek

    I think Android will “win” and be installed on more devices, but you can’t count an Android tablet that doesn’t exist and then not count the AppleTV that does exist but runs different software.

    I’ve often wondered why Apple doesn’t release an iPhoneOS for AppleTV and open a specific App Store, but you have to think they could without a tremendous amount of work.

    Should they, Apple would find themselves up millions of units (I’d think, don’t know the sales numbers) on Google TV. It wouldn’t last, but it’d slow the growth of Google TV and take some of the sizzle away.

  • dcdjason

    The benefit of a separate iPad or smart phone is that I can do my own thing while watching TV with my wife and kids. I don’t want the internet on my TV. I’m hoping Google TV will make it easier to bring a personalized selection of shows from broadcast, cable, the web, Netflix, etc. Tivo does a pretty good job of this – Digg Reel shows up in my Now Showing list along with 30 Rock or the Daily Show. Netflix is one click away but I’m afraid that Tivo does not have the resources to bring it to the next level.

    I agree that Android will be on more installed devices. Whether it can win the hearts and minds of consumers like Apple remains to be seen.

  • http://www.jv21.com/ jovike

    Not sure about this, because the sofa is typically a long way from the sofa while the iPad is in one’s lap. I know which I’d rather type into.

    Re. Apple TV: Yes it is good having the Internet on a TV. Sometimes we will watch YouTube all night on the big screen, or I like to watch Flickr sets with my own music – better than TV!

    One final objection:Yes, everyone has a TV but do they want to replace it now? In the UK many people have just replaced their old boxy CRT tellies with flat screen jobbies. Their next refresh is a few years off.

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