"One more thing" in Google TV: Striking back at Apple's hobby business?

With Apple in its crosshairs, Google is set to announce on Monday a "home entertainment device". But is it just a strategic move to strike out at its closest rival?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

What does Google have up its sleeve? An announcement is expected tomorrow to reveal the company's latest push into the home entertainment business.

Google indicated it would push into home entertainment at its Google I/O developer conference last May. It would push the search giant further into the consumer market, where competitors like Microsoft have widely failed; focusing instead on the enterprise sales of Office and Windows.

But one can't help but feel somewhat apathetic towards what we believe to be a Google-branded "home entertainment device", that would "stream music wirelessly throughout the home", as per a Wall Street Journal report.

Simply put: Apple already has one in Apple TV. Is this just Google's attempt to get one over Apple? Google doesn't have the brand pizazz or the cult following that Apple has but it can throw its weight around when it needs to. Google+, amid its initial stumble over its real names policy, took off spectacularly with over 90 million users in six months.

Also, when Google acquires Motorola, its patent portfolio will increase on a massive scale. This alone could make Google theoretically the de facto leader in television products, even if it only has a mere competitor to Apple's set-top box product.

At the end of it, who cares? Almost everyone has a television, and while Google moves towards a unified interface on a vast array of different devices --- with plug and play functionality, similar to that of Apple TV --- it cannot be taking this move lightly. Already it generates revenue from search advertising and Google Music, which is still in beta, but how much can it make from an Apple TV-like product?

The company would have been looking closely at Apple to see how much profit it generates from purchases within Apple TV, from movie rental and music purchases.

Since December 2010, Apple sold only 1 million second-generation Apple TV devices. For the second fiscal quarter of 2011, it had topped 2 million in total. In January 2012, Apple said it had 1.4 million sold in the first fiscal quarter. Since Apple started selling the second-generation Apple TV, it sold around 3.5--4 million units worldwide.

For Apple, home television and content streaming is a hobby business. Google is going into this with its horns sharpened.

Let's not forget this is not the first time Google has tried its luck in the television space. Its first attempt resulted in an overpriced set-top box made by Logitech and Sony. Logitech ended up having to firesale its remaining inventory in summer 2011 from lacklustre holiday sales. Even the company's chief executive said that the product was a "mistake of implementation of a gigantic nature."

Strangely, Google used Facebook to set the wheels in motion for its expected Monday announcement rather than its own Google+ social network. ZDNet's Ed Bott pointed out the 'deliberate mistake', but with nearly ten-times as many users than its own social network, it shouldn't come as any surprise that Facebook is the perfect setting for such news.


Image source: Google, Facebook.


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