In August last year, Google acquired Motorola Mobility. The superficial rationale was the acquisition of patents to future proof its Android operating system.
Another important factor may well have been to buy in Motorola’s expertise in the manufacture of TV set top boxes.
This July, Google (in partnership with Sony) launch their own Android-powered set top boxes in Britain. Clearly, they need to establish them more successfully than their previous US attempt at a similar launch (2010), which led to their hardware partner pulling out after less than a year.
Lessons learnt from Motorola might just help.
So why is the British living room such a rich hunting ground for Google?.. We think there are at least two good reasons:
1) It allows Google to expand its services onto the ‘premium’ screen in the household. Google set top boxes will allow services like Search and Youtube to be used more, by more people outside of traditional online screens
2) It is Google’s opportunity to collect more data on the media behaviour of British consumers (in a nice way). Using a Google product to serve content on a new (for Google) platform will allow them to connect what they already know about us through services like Search to TV viewing behaviours. And knowledge is power (and more importantly, money).
In the last full year that data is available – 2010 – there were a million internet connected TVs sold in the UK, 10% of all TVs sold. So in the fulfilment of their ambition, Google are hoping to take advantage of an already established trend.
Some sources predict that internet connected TVs will have 100% penetration of TV households by end of 2014 (FutureSource Consulting) and even if this isn’t reached replacement TVs will start to have built in connectivity as standard.