Google TV – Why Google will succeed where Microsoft failed

Why Google will succeed where Microsoft failed

Back in 1997, Microsoft announced the acquisition of a company called WebTV. WebTV’s product was a set top box with a 100Mhz processor, 2MB RAM and 2MB ROM. Using a built in dial-up modem, subscribers could browse the web,  watch TV as they browsed the web and record programs on the hard disk. Despite, Microsoft’s massive marketing push, the device never gained much popularity. Google is attempting an internet connected set-top box of its own. In the recent Google IO meet, Google announced the Google TV in partnership with Intel, Sony and Logitech. Google will provide the OS (Android), Intel will supply the chips, Sony will build the box and Logitech will build the remote. Here’s why they may succeed where Microsoft failed.


In some ways, the WebTV was ahead of its times. Without Broadband speeds, online videos and IPTV weren’t really possible and email was the predominant application. The TV is a very family device and users didn’t want to check emails on the TV. YouTube, IPTV services, gaming and internet based movie rental/purchase are gaining popularity and are already driving the need to bring the internet connection to the TV.


Another problem with the WebTV was that conventional CRT TVs had extremely low resolution. Web content, which was primarily text based at the time, couldn’t be rendered nicely on a CRT TV. With the rising penetration of the LCD TV, reading text on an LCD is much more acceptable.


Google’s Android App store means that the Google TV would replace a lot of different boxes in your crowded living room. Using inexpensive Apps, ranging in price from free to a few dollars, you could use Google TV to stream/rent audio and movies from the Internet, display content stored on your Wifi connected Hard Disk and even replace your gaming consoles. Live feeds from Facebook and Twitter could be the ticker on the bottom of your TV screen. Beyond the multimedia applications, hardware developed to connect with Google TV could let you use the TV to monitor and control your home automation and surveillance systems or even an automatic vacuum cleaner.


Why would Google’s apps succeed where others have failed before? The answer lies in Google’s open source approach. The Google TV is not just one box built by Sony. Google’s open source approach means hundreds of companies could launch set top boxes of varying configurations. Potentially, the Satellite TV set top boxes and LCD TVs could start to use Android for their OS, allowing users to run Android Apps on their TVs. The open Android App environment means content in the form of multimedia and games could be developed and distributed by virtually anyone for a very large market. The open framework could spawn a market for other consumer electronics devices which use the set top box and TV as accessories to reuse processing and display hardware thus reducing costs.


What Google is launching goes beyond a single set top box to an entire eco-system and it could change the TV experience in much the same way as the Iphone changed the cellphone business.

5 Responses to “Google TV – Why Google will succeed where Microsoft failed”

  1. Tushit says:

    @Mayukh -> I agree that Google hasn’t monetized businesses other than the search, but all the revenue even there comes from Advertising. If they can successfully push their OS & Browser into a majority of the TVs, then together with YouTube, they have a very powerful targeted advertising platform. There is every reason for YouTube to start shaping into a TV channel of sorts (remember the IPL broadcast).
    Their ability to get into the TV is driven by the same business synergy that is helping Android outsell IPhone – open source vs closed platform.

  2. Brij says:

    Interesting write-up. Your explanation of why Microsoft failed makes sense though I still don’t buy the argument of why Google will succeed. One of the authors above has already pointed out that Google has not demonstrated how it is going to monetize GoogleTV.

    Further, I believe the need for open source is less critical in TV than other markets. Case in point is the smartphone market where Google is using (to great effect) the open source candy along with sharing of ad revenues to push its OS to OEMs who are starving due to lack of differentiation and onslaught by Apple.

    I don’t think there is a similar need for open source in this case. In fact, I’m pretty sure Sony will build enough bells and whistles to make their offering proprietary enough and make it difficult for brand new entrants.

    I think the whole premise of the GoogleTV depends on just one thing: How big is the market for TV ads? The jury is still out on this.

    As long as Google can get enough monies out of people like us using GoogleTV through AD, it doesn’t matter if GoogleTV is based on open source or not.

    Another benefit for Google is that Android based TV boxes gives it a great common platform across devices (imagine a world having smartphones, tablets, TVs and PCs (though using chrome) all using same OS shell). That is what Microsoft has been dreaming for sometime!

    And don’t rule out Microsoft so easily. They do have a dark horse in the form of XBOX which they can easily tweak to make it the ‘entertainment brain’ of the typical household and integrate it with Bing.

    It is fascinating to watch the Google Microsoft battle though.

  3. Mayukh says:

    Need to see this service implemented before I can believe the hype.
    Google has been successful at 2 things
    > Search
    > Monetizing Search

    Most everything else has been a failure by their lofty standards. The fact remains that they get over 95% of their $$ from search and literally zilch from the rest.

    Agreed some of the long term plays (Android and Chrome) might pay dividends later. But Google has not convinced me that they can collaborate with the myriad players in this very atypical content based ecosystem.

    With that said, I hope they can pull it through 😉

  4. Tushit says:

    A nice video from Google giving a preview of Google TV

  5. Rainu says:

    Google TV may work.. but people would still search the videos on Bing cause Bing’s video search is being largely appreciated.

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