The Internet has upended music and shred print. It has transformed the telephone to a degree where the term itself seems quaint. The next step for Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google or somebody else, is to solve TV. It’s what Steve Jobs died trying to do.
TV viewing is at an all-time high. For the overwhelming majority of viewers, the experience is pretty much the same as it was twenty years ago. Most TV screens are islands, disconnected from every other screen its owners use. As a certainty, this will change soon. The question is, who will change it?
The Q connects to your speakers and TV and lets you stream free content from Google-owned Youtube or rent movies from Google Play, a less-popular iTunes-like content store in the cloud. But it doesn’t let you watch video files rented or purchased from rivals like Apple or Amazon. The Q lets you control your TV from your Android smartphone or tablet, laying waste to the hated remote control. But it doesn’t let you control your TV with an iPhone or iPad- your mobile device, like your content, must be from Google. None of these annoying constraints are particular to Google. AppleTV is just as stifling. It won’t easily play random .avi files you’ve got kicking around your hard drive, much less let you stream a rival’s content.
TV will be solved, but it won’t be easy. The winner of this war will be whoever can offer a seamless experience that lets different people with different phones and tablets watch and control content from different sources on the same TV screen. The winner will have to provide live access to sports and news as well as instant connectivity to whatever content we want: downloads or streams, pirated or paid for. The winner will need to make it easy to buy content from them, but just as easy to get it from a competitor, including competing technologies like Bittorrent or Usenet.
That’s going to take some balls.