Google TV Exec: We Owe It All to the iPhone

One of the most important inspirations for Google TV was Apple’s iPhone, Google TV Product Lead Rishi Chandra revealed during a keynote at the Streaming Media West Conference today. Chandra spent much of his keynote talking about why the time is right for a new approach to bringing web content to the TV, and he compared the space with the way mobile phones accessed the web five years ago. Back then, most operators tried to package the web for mobile devices –- and all of them failed. “Apple threw out that assumption,” said Chandra.

Are you interested in hearing more about Google TV? Then check out our NewTeeVee Live conference, coming up on November 10 in San Francisco, where we will quiz Rishi Chandra about the future of this platform.

Apple refused to optimize the web, and instead just served web sites as is on its devices. Content creators soon noticed a spike of mobile traffic coming from the iPhone, and soon after started to optimize their site for the iPhone. Essentially, Apple solved the chicken-and-egg problem and in turn kickstarted the mobile web. Google now hopes to do the same by bringing a full browser onto the TV.

“You need to bring all of the content onto the TV today, even if it’s not optimized,” said Chandra. In fact, the company is taking another lesson from Apple’s playbook by coming out with a browser first, and adding access to the Android Marketplace early next year. “It took a full year for the app store to come to the iPhone,” reminded Chandra his audience.

Of course, Google TV is based on Android, with which Google is competing with the iPhone, and Chandra acknowledged this part of the product’s heritage by emphasizing that another important lesson from the mobile space has been to open source Google TV. “If you open source the platform, then all of a sudden you’re bringing the entire industry, the entire ecosystem on your side,” he said.

Chandra also briefly talked about Google TV’s challenges with broadcasters who have been blocking access to online content. He joked that most of this broadcast content is actually available on Google TV through your cable or satellite service, but said that Google is trying to make as much content available on its platform as possible.

Check out an interview I did with Chandra a few days ago below:

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required):

The Cisco Managed/Cloud Services Insight Group is your source for information. Learn more »

Buy Toy Story 3 at Walmart? Stream It on VUDU

For those wondering what might come of Walmart acquiring over-the-top video company VUDU, here’s the first big move.

Tomorrow, when Pixar’s Toy Story 3 becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray, any consumer who buys a disc at a Walmart store will receive a code to watch the film to any VUDU-enabled device, including a number of connected Blu-ray players, HDTVs and home theater systems as well as, most recently, the upcoming Boxee box. According to a post on the VUDU blog, “The future of media has officially arrived, and it is awesome!”

This isn’t the first time a similar deal has been offered to consumers; Amazon, for example, launched a promotional offer last December that allowed buyers to immediately download any title they’d just purchased on DVD or Blu-ray.

However, it is the first time that Walmart is making direct use of its VUDU deal — which, Peter Kafka reported last February, cost Wal-mart over $100 million in cash — and may lead to similar offers beyond Toy Story 3.

Will this be a step forward for digital distribution, though? Given the general attitude among many industry leaders that physical media is on its way out, this move seems like a smart way to introduce consumers to new content platforms.

But by requiring the purchase of a DVD or Blu-ray, Walmart may be holding on too hard to a dying medium. While the VUDU acquisition does show that Walmart is looking to the future, it remains to be seen what direction this move will take.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required):

The Cisco Managed/Cloud Services Insight Group is your source for information. Learn more »

Loading Ready Run’s Daily Drop Offers Elegant Slow-Mo Destruction

Any Mythbusters fans in the house? Especially Mythbusters fans who tune in not for the science, but for the slow-motion footage of destruction? This one’s for you.

Daily Drop, the brainchild of Canadian sketch comedy maestros Loading Ready Run and run exclusively on Escapist, lives up to its name in a very simple way. In each daily episode, a speechless scientist portrayed by LRR members Paul Saunders or Graham Stark (the show’s creator) climbs up a ladder and drops something from an approximate height of ten feet. The ensuing collision with the ground is captured by a waiting high-speed camera, and presented for the viewer in elegant slow-motion.

While slow motion is far from a new concept, few have attempted to make serial content out of the technique. The closest thing to Daily Drop in recent memory is the now-defunct I Can Has Cheezburger series SuperSweetSlowMo.

But while that project lacked focus, the concept of slow-mo destruction has an enduring quality to it, and so far the Loading Ready Run team has shown a great deal of imagination in choosing what to drop, from pizza:

To binder coils:

To a Koosh ball:

The best part is when an experiment doesn’t produce very exciting results — for example, when a bag of coffee just plops on the ground. LRR’s solution? A crowbar.

The score is perhaps slightly too heavily influenced by old Nintendo tunes, but doesn’t end up detracting from these bite-sized moments of pure visual spectacle. It’s great short-attention-span content, the kind of single-serving mayhem that’s built empires for blender and microwave users. Except that in this case, Daily Drop only requires gravity, which is free, and everywhere.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required):

The Cisco Managed/Cloud Services Insight Group is your source for information. Learn more »

PHOTOS: Gov. Schwarzenegger Loves His Oversized Skull Rings

In what might be the most fascinating and yet utterly unsurprising news of the week, it appears that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has an intense fondness for oversize rings. We first noticed Schwarzenegger's unique take on accessorizing in a New York Times photo of the Governor meeting with Russian president Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow. While neither men are anything close to a shrinking violet, it was Schwarzenegger's giant skull ring that stole the show.

Read the rest of this entry »