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The Google TV Revolution

Posted May. 24, 2010 14:15,   


The emergence of television shocked the world in 1928. When a TV was on display at an electronics store in central Seoul in 1954, the elderly thought people were living inside the set. The medium began expanding in Korea with the establishment of KBS in 1961. Canadian journalism scholar Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” The tube thus led to changes in people’s outlook toward the world by expanding their horizons visually.

TV offers programs provided by broadcasters. This is the medium’s unchanging role, though black-and-white programming was replaced by color, analog made way for digital, and CRT monitors were overtaken by flatscreens. The emergence of digital mobile broadcast technology has not affected TV’s core role, either. Google has released a new TV, however, that provides an entirely new experience for viewers. The new TV shows a program verbally requested by a user on a remote control. The addition of Android application programs enables Google search functions and the operation of tens of thousands of applications on the TV. If Google TV catches on, this will transform the broadcaster-oriented TV market into one driven by audiences.

While Korean companies were locked in a closed Internet environment centered on fixed-line networks, Apple and Google took the dominant positions in the market by releasing smartphones based on Wi-Fi. The iPad, Apple’s tablet PC, is in short supply in the U.S. due to its huge popularity. In Korea, however, IPTV has yet to take root due to a dispute between telecommunication operators and broadcasters. Under this situation, Korea is just sitting back while Google opens up a new world.

Controversy is rising among netizens over whether the iPad is a computer. This is because the iPad is a device of new dimensions. Google TV is similar to the iPad as the former blurs the boundary between TV and computers. What is clear is that Google TV is a revolutionary product that cannot be categorized in one field. New and promising business items in the 21st century will emerge if companies produce ideas that go beyond existing paradigms. Google’s Android phones are made by the Taiwanese handset maker HTC, and Google TV is produced by the Japanese electronics giant Sony. What Google has is new business models based on creativity. Korean companies must strive to strengthen their creativity as Google and Apple have done. Creativity backs technological power.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)