Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

A Peek at TV’s Future, Via Google Fiber

The Google Fiber experiment/maybe-not-an-experiment in Kansas City is important because it shows Google’s ability to compete directly with broadband providers for control of the Internet pipe itself.

If Google doesn’t need to rely on the Comcasts/Time Warner Cables of the world to connect with your computer, then all kinds of interesting stuff could happen — if Google really does want to get into the business of becoming a broadband provider.

Google says that’s the case, but it’s hard to imagine the company really following through. So, we’ll see.

Meantime, Google Fiber, which started rolling out to homes last week, also gives you a glimpse at what The TV Of The Future is supposed to look like. You turn on your set and can watch whatever you want, no matter who is sending out the signal: Broadcast TV, cable TV, Netflix, etc. (You’re probably going to pay for it the same way you do now, though.)

BTIG analysts Rich Greenfield and Walt Piecyk trekked out from New York City last week to get a hands-on demo of the TV service (registration required), and you can see a demo clip here.

It’s not a thrilling video, because it relies on still shots, but it does give you a sense of what the product actually looks like.

The big idea here is one we’ve also seen from other next-gen TV experiments, including Google TV, Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo’s new console: One screen, many inputs, and a guide that simply lets you find whatever you want to watch, without having to worry about the source. If a mythical Apple TV ever shows up, it should do the same thing:

One other point: Note that the one thing you’d expect to see from Google in a TV product — YouTube — isn’t actually available yet. It’s supposed to show up next year, and the fact that it hasn’t yet is sort of astonishing, given YouTube’s stated ambition to compete directly with TV for eyeballs and ad dollars.

But bear in mind that for whatever reason, the Google org structure puts YouTube and Google TV in a completely different silo than Google Fiber. Internally, that must make sense in some Googley way. But it’s hard to fathom from the outside.

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— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo