One of the worst kept secrets in the industry today is Google’s TV intentions for their pending 1 Gbps FTTP network in Kansas City. Google is being real coy regarding their video plans, going out of their way to offer “no comment” when asked. But we do know they are building a video headend in Council Bluffs, IA and that they have applied for and received state regulatory approvals for a video service.
I think it’s safe to say Google will offer some sort of video service in Kansas City and I believe it will be IPTV. That begs the question – what middleware will they use? Certainly not Microsoft Mediaroom. That would be equivalent to say, Apple offering an Android version of the iPhone. File that in the ‘not going to happen’ folder. Maybe Minerva? Plausible for sure, but highly unlikely.
What’s more likely is a Google developed IPTV middleware platform. In fact, two independent inside sources have confirmed with me that Google is doing just that –developing their own middleware platform. To be sure, that’s not proof positive that it will be featured in Kansas City (or anywhere for that matter). Google has been known to change course and even kill projects that are well into development or even released. They are not afraid to change course, which could apply to this middleware project, the IPTV aspect, or even the entire FTTP project.
But let’s assume their middleware project does see the light of day and launches in Kansas City. This is all conjecture on my part, but here is a partial list of the possibilities we might see with this new Google middleware platform:
Google TV Integration – While Google TV has not caught on in huge numbers as a standalone product, I imagine it will be the basis for this middleware foray. That means a better search experience for the TV, tighter OTT content integration, and a growing app marketplace.
YouTube Gateway – I imagine Google will find an impressive method for creating some form of a YouTube gateway, not just a run-of-the-mill YouTube channel like what currently appears on third-party external STBs.
Cloud Integration – Their recent rebranding of Android marketplace to Google Play revealed a cloud approach to content access. I suspect we’ll see a nice integration of cloud access to content baked into this middleware, provided the content rights allow it. That means tight content integration and access between the TV, Android based smartphones and tablets, and Chrome.
Smartphone Integration – IPTV providers like AT&T and numerous smaller carriers have done a decent job of integrating communications apps to the TV experience, including TV Caller ID, voicemail on the TV, etc. I imagine Google will take this a step further to include Android powered smartphones. How about TV Caller ID for your smartphone and texting from the TV to start?
Social TV – In addition to the traditional Facebook and Twitter apps for the TV, look for Google to find innovative ways to feature and integrate Google+ on their middleware platform.
Google Advertising – Google has already been sniffing around the TV advertising business. Their IPTV network could be a great laboratory to fine tune their Google TV advertising model. We often forget that the core of Google’s business is advertising.
What would you add?