Is Google trying to iTune-ize TV with latest effort?

News broke this weekend that an imminent refresh of Google’s TV platform is on its way.  And while it’s old news that Google has long been moving away from Google TV and looking to bring their TV efforts more in line with Android from a branding perspective, the Verge piece shed light on the move towards simplification and discovery by Google.

And today, Janko has an interesting piece that talked about how Google is looking to simplify the apps by standardizing around templates, which could create a possibly similar look and feel and navigation experience to all the content apps.

From Janko:

I’ve been told that Google’s new approach wants to do away with those differences by replacing these custom interfaces with standardized templates. Publishers wouldn’t need to come up with their own user interface, but instead would develop apps that provide data feeds to the Android TV platform.

For example, these feeds would consist of movie titles and box cover art, which would then be rendered by the platform to a more consistent presentation. To a consumer, browsing the catalog of one provider would look and feel more like browsing a directory in a bigger content catalog, as opposed to opening an app that’s completely separate from every other app on the platform.

Interesting, and I can see why Google wants more app standardization.  They’re moving the platform to be more of a discovery engine, and there’s real value in creating similar experiences across apps since much of the work in creating a next-gen TV experience is bridging the learning gap for consumers who are fighting decades of learned behavior around traditional TV navigation paradigms.  The less variance across app experiences, the quicker they “get it” and the new TV experience becomes second nature.

However, the biggest headwind I think they’ll face with this new approach is pushback from big content providers, who will always want unique app experiences across platform.

In a sense, I think Google is looking to do what Apple did, to an extent, a decade ago with iTunes.  While people credit Apple with creating a big digital marketplace for music because of iTunes and its accompanying iPod players, a large part of what they did with iTunes was create a new navigation and discovery paradigm for digital music in what to that point had been a highly fractured music landscape.  That people could go to one place to find music with consistent discovery, listening and buying experience was a huge step forward, and something that the TV app ecosystem could benefit from.

And sure, Google would never tip their hat to Apple, but it sure feels like that’s what they’re doing, and it’s also probably coming in anticipation of an increased push by Apple to create a more evolved app platform.

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Michael Wolf

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