Either We Get A Cheap Set Top Box, or Google Wins

I’m preaching to the choir here, but there is a MASSIVE DISCONNECT between Web Video and our Televisions right now.

Yes, we’ve got different toy options that do some very cool things (the Roku Box for Netflix, the Popcorn Hour product, Apple TV, the Xbox, etc.) but they remain, to this point, toys. They tend to do just 1 thing (and sometimes not even well) and forget everything else. For example the Roku box is gorgeous for Netflix but ignores Hulu, YouTube.com, etc.

We’ve got some connection options that are exciting (like PlayOn which I wrote about earlier), but they simply aren’t ready for prime time yet. In the case of PlayOn, I don’t know if Hulu is fighting PlayOn or if the coding is bad but it just doesn’t work the way it needs to. In the case of everyone else, we just seem to have these one-offs.

In my Google Tech Talk of a few months back (embedded below), I spoke of my “Year of Living Digitally” project. It was a lot of fun but to this date, to do what I want to do, I have an Apple TV, an Xbox, a Popcorn Hour box, an HD over the air antenna and a dock for my laptop all hooked up to my television (you can imagine how much my family loves this). This was understandable 1/1/2007 but is starting, simply, to get silly.

There is plenty of news about how Joost is going browser-only and how others are following it. My question/statement is this … is the future of Web Video the browser or the television set? Sure, I guess we have an option for browser on our television set but I really don’t think this is where this is all going.

So, in short … we need a box that puts ALL Web Video on our televisions. If we don’t, Google “wins” everything …

And that, BTW, is not an anti-Google statement, that is a nobody should own all of this statement.

Now, here’s the funny trend that I’m worried about (and what causes me to write this piece) … most of the television/Web hybrid boxes and solutions have a YouTube engine of sorts. From the very cool integrated Apple TV option to the feature on PlayOn (that doesn’t crash) and the channel on the Popcorn Hour box, YouTube.com is there: It’s the 800 pound gorilla, they got simple APIs and they’re easy to work with.

So, right now, if I want to get Internet video on the television that works for everyone – I really have only once choice – it’s YouTuboogle.

It can’t be that way. We need box that can handle YouTube (like all of the boxes), proprietary systems (like Hulu, Netflix), and open systems (like Podcasts on the Popcorn Hour box) – all in one device.

The box that does that, WINS.

And if no box does that, Google WINS.

Thoughts?

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