GTV killer app

Q: What Will Be Google TV’s Killer App?

A: “Killer app” is the kind of giddy talk that journalists use to attract eyeballs. Killer apps don’t happen in blog chatter, they happen by hacking. But I’ll bite if this is about the purpose and value of Google TV and other platforms, like web app support in Boxee, that bring open web technology to the TV.

One huge benefit is good user experience. Comcast et al lack it. Legacy remote controls, on-screen channel guides, and DVRs are not in the same league with comparable things on the open web. No skilled interaction designer or product manager would ever do work that confusing, error prone, and user hostile. For example Dish has 50,000 channels, yet the on-screen channel guide is a linear list that you scroll through from the first to the last.

TV really does need search. It also needs scrobbling, channel bookmarking, recommendations, playlists, and all the other information architecture tools that have evolved to manage the firehose of content on the open internet. The information architecture of legacy TV is oriented towards the tiny amount of content that was available before the advent of cable TV. It’s been a long time since then.

Also, content specific to the web, stuff that’s not on cable, will be a big draw. No doubt this will include porn, but also there will be the whole world of ultra niche media that powers blog traffic on the web. What’s holding back niche content on IP TV is that users can’t find or manage it. For example the other night I watched a great live set by the squawk electronica band Holy Fuck on Baeble’s Roku channel. The reason this kind of thing will have a big impact isn’t that it’s blockbuster content, like The Sopranos of Roku, but that it scales up to a very large number of niches, including political videoblogs, mommy videoblogs, etc.