by Will Robertson (@Willr123)
Today marked Google’s I/O conference, and the bevy of announcements that accompanied it. The most discussed being the Froyo update for Android and Google TV. The dialogue stems not only from excitement for the new products, but because their introduction seems to be a strong-armed move into what was previously considered Apple’s territory.
One of the major talking points surrounding the new Froyo OS is Flash 10.1, which Apple does not support on the iPhone. Another major update is that apps and music downloaded on your computer can be automatically be added to your phone wirelessly. This is a feature that programmers have tried to develop iPhone apps for, but each one has been denied by Apple’s selection process. The ability to tether and to create wifi hotspots from your smart phone are capabilities that iPhone users have longing for, only to be disappointed by Apple.
After both Microsoft and Apple’s less than stellar forays into set-tops, it seems curious that Google would choose to enter this tricky market. Today, Google revealed that Google TV would be similar to their Android platform – they will develop the software which hardware companies would then be able to use for their own products. As with Froyo, Google TV is a major challenge to Apple. Google TV supports Flash, and the buyer will have several options when it comes to product. Sony, Panasonic, and DISH will all be producing platforms for Google TV. In a not-so-subtle acknowledgment of Google’s ambitions, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer said “When you beat Apple, you dominate. New definition.” Perhaps most important of all is Google’s approach to content. Many would contend that Apple TV’s biggest flaw was the lack of available programming. Google will have no such problem. They already have deals in place to make existing content from Netflix, Cable, Youtube and Hulu available.
All of these additions and features are evidence of Google’s willingness to listen to the community. Perhaps most symbolic of their stance on their customer’s involvement in the innovation process is that they will be making the Google TV source code open and free in early 2011, allowing anyone to change the software as they see fit. For Apple to be able to compete with these new products, they must rethink how the company interacts with their customers.
image: screen shot of today’s Google home page