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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 29, 2010

Apple-Google fight expected over TV's future

By Jessica Guynn and David Sarno
Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO Another battle is brewing between Apple Inc. and Google Inc., and this time it may come into your living room.

One week after Google announced its bid for the hearts and eyes of America's TV viewers with Internet-based Google TV, its Silicon Valley rival is reportedly poised to overhaul its own offering, Apple TV.

The stakes are high. Whoever wins could play a leading role in one of the great technological transformations of recent memory by piping limitless video and other content from the Internet and television to the small screen. Americans spend several hours a day in front of their televisions, creating what some analysts estimate to be a $150 billion advertising market.

"A generation from now, people simply won't believe how limited the world of linear programming was, the same way people under 30 today can't relate to 12 channels and a knob," said Jim Lanzone, chief executive of Clicker.com, an Internet TV programming guide.

Nearly 40 percent of consumers said they wanted to connect their computers to their televisions to watch online video, according to a recent survey by Frank N. Magid Associates. Yet Internet television has remained largely a pipe dream for the brightest, richest technology companies, including Microsoft Corp.

The revamped Apple TV is likely to have features that will enable viewers to stream entertainment and content from the Internet, similar to Google TV, which is pushing a new generation of Internet-connected televisions and home entertainment devices that run on Google's Android software.

Google TV would enable viewers to quickly pull up on their TV photos, video, music and other content from the Web using on on-screen search box just like the box on its website.

Apple's new version of its TV set-top box may have many of the functionality found on its runaway success iPhone. It is also looking at slashing the price to $99 from $229, according to technology blog Engadget, which first reported on the prospects of the overhaul.

But there is a major potential stumbling block. Media companies could object to having their online video content streamed on Google TV because it could harm their traditional TV business.