Say Hello to Google TV

Logitech dropped the Revue yesterday, the first offering in what is sure to be a bevy of devices designed to bring the Web into your living room.  So with all the wonderful things your phone can do on a 3.5 inch screen in your pocket, why wouldn’t you want the same kind of customized content being fed to you on your big screen while you watch a related show? Well maybe because you’re giving Big Brother G a bunch of information about yourself in the process.  Every time a user fires up Google’s laser-like search functions he makes an implicit choice to pay a toll in the new currency of the Internet: personal information.  Don’t you forget it. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Consider the following video from 2009:

While your privacy-muscle may twitch when listening to CEO Eric Schmidt describe his vision for Smart-TVs, the fact of the matter is that no one’s making you use their services (which are free, and generally work really REALLY well).  And there’s no doubt that Page, Brin, and Schmidt will enhance the TV experience one way or another.

Netflix streaming will be accesible via an Android-based app provided for Google TV—which seems to indicate an Android phone app is likely on its way. It’s up to apps to make themselves open to Google TV’s universal search so results can show up. Negotiations between Google and Hulu are ongoing, meaning we could see Hulu Plus show up sometime soon.

Other apps will be available from a Google TV market—a silo within the Android Marketplace—which reps say should launch sometime next year, or “as fast as possible.” An SDK, based on the existing Android SDK, will be made available, with a Google rep saying devs “will be able to reuse a lot of code.” The same rep said a separate search algorithm—”Google TV Search”—draws from a wide body of content, including live television, guide listings, and, when paired with Dish, video stored on your DVR. The TV search will also pull in what’s on the web.

Gizmodo

So far, my own HTPC (a Windows PC plugged into my TV) has been good, not great.  But Logitech is a company that specializes in controllers and interfaces, so I’m optimistic that this could put a better spin on the experience.  From the viewpoint of a relatively educated consumer, it seems as though the Big G may wind up with more to offer Google TV customers than Apple can through iTunes.  Since 98% of Google’s revenue comes from search, they are not in the business of controlling or distributing content, just serving it to you as quickly and accurately as possible.  They want you to be able to find whatever the hell you want (and generally for free), because, frankly, they want to know what the hell it is you want so they can serve it to you in the form of targeted ads.  Apple on the other hand, wants to control every aspect of its content-distribution ecosystem, and make micro-transactions on each individual episode you “rent” (read: play on demand).  That’s great for Steve, but might end up limiting how much content they’re able to get on board.  Either way, we’re watching the future of Television unfold.  You might want to stay tuned.

ESPN Producer Caught Publicly Touching/Resembling His Weiner

So my first reaction when I saw this story about ESPN Producer Neil Goldberg was to think back on similar peeping Toms and public masturbators that have been caught doing their thing in the past few months. Like this guy who wasn’t doing anything but was clearly suspicious, or this guy who was actually rubbing his junk on some poor girl on the N-train.  Whenever I see stories like this I can’t help but think about how much high-quality porn is so readily available on the Interent.  And it blows my mind that these guys, many of whom would go to the lengths that they do, with all the associated risk of getting caught, being embarrassed, arrested, losing your family and job, and basically having your life ruined in every imaginable way.  So how is it possible that so many men who are otherwise leading normal, healthy lives choose to stare this risk in the face and then attempt to cover it with their J-O-nnaise? There’s no way they are unaware or unwilling to tap into the plethora of debauchery that is but a Google away.  Is there?

The only conceivable answer is one that just may scare me right off the web for years to come: Is it possible that these poor bastards have “used up” their appetite for Internet porn?  I mean how many times can you really watch a girl in an ASU cheerleading uniform get demoralized by two men? Quite a few it seems, but there has to be a limit.  I’ll report back when I hit it.

I certainly hope this isn’t the case, though, because the Internet and its barrage of flesh-at-your-fingertips are still a fairly new part of human life.  Imagine all the guys out there that have been watching that shit since age 11!  There’s no telling what level of craziness they’ve worked up to now.  Sooner or later, the bubble’s going to pop and there will be a GLOBAL PANDEMIC of desperate lunatics running around out there perching on the windowsills of innocent showerers and snaking cameras through the peepholes at their favorite announcers’ hotel rooms; a veritable zombie-invasion of guys that just can’t get off by watching porn anymore and are forced to wander the Earth looking for open windows to climb into so they can eat your underwear.

Hide ya kids, hide ya wife, etc.

RIM Announces Playbook Tablet, Still Playing Defense

RIM has finally announced that its new tablet will go on sale in early 2011.  More importantly, the 7″ ‘PlayBook’ (formerly known as the ‘Blackpad’) will support Adobe Flash, finally giving me the hope that we’ll find out if Apple really keeps flash off of its devices for battery issues, or if Joaoaerbs just wants to keep web applets out of his iTunes/GameCenter ecosystem.

The initial version will have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections but will only be able to connect to cellular networks through a BlackBerry smartphone. RIM said it intends to offer 3G and 4G ready tablets “in the future.”

The PlayBook will run on an all-new operating system built by QNX Software Systems, which makes software used to run everything from cars to nuclear reactors. RIM bought QNX earlier this year, and has been working to adapt the software for mobile phones.

The move means RIM will have to juggle two distinct operating systems. The company announced its BlackBerry 6 operating system for smartphones in April, and rolled out the first handset running on it, the BlackBerry Torch, last month.

WSJ

Connectivity through your existing Blackberry phone sounds like a great idea from a data-consumer’s point of view, but they’re certainly not going to gain market share on Apple with a strategy that only appeals to current Blackberry users.  It should also be noted that, like most Blackberry products, the PlayBook seems to be geared specifically to enterprise.  They’re likely not trying pry loose Apple’s stranglehold over the consumer market just yet.  So despite demonstrations of video, photo, and e-reader uses, as well as its ‘play’ful name, I wouldn’t expect users to be loading it with games any time soon.

Although, if they so wish, and if the browser is strong enough, Blackberry fans could get their fill of gaming through the web since, again, the PlayBook will support flash.  The only difference is they’ll be getting that content for free, whereas Apple’s stonewalling of Adobe’s popular technology has afforded them the unique ability to charge up to $9.99 for games that we would have otherwise played free on the web.

The WSJ article also made no mention of the price point.  It’s certainly a tough question, and it’s entirely possible that RIM hasn’t decided where to position the device in terms of pricing.  To make an Apple comparison again, the iPad can easily be sold at a loss because of the implied revenue they expect to make by selling apps, much like Microsoft has done with their Xbox.  The money is in the software (games or otherwise).  But without a robust developer base, you can’t count on app sales as a revenue stream to keep the device afloat.  In that sense, and with an entirely new OS, the Blackberry faces the same uphill battle that Sony did when they launched the PS3.  The console is certainly a very capable device (as I’m sure the PlayBook will be), but it struggled to gain traction for quite a while because developers shied away from its largely unknown architecture.

Ray Sharma, founder of XMG Studios, a closely held Toronto firm that develops games for the iPhone and Android platforms, was encouraged by RIM’s announcements Monday, but said it’s too soon to say whether his firm will begin developing games for the BlackBerry platform or for the PlayBook.

Mr. Sharma said the QNX operating system, while highly touted, is an unknown. By contrast, the Android system is on version 2.2, while the Apple OS is in its fourth iteration, he said. Mr. Sharma is also monitoring the progress of Microsoft Corp.’s new Windows mobile operating system, which will integrate with the company’s X-Box videogame system, making it particularly attractive for game developers, he said.

WSJ

RIM will try to compete for developers’ attention by waiving developer fees and attempting to streamline the app-creation process with a new development platform, but they are taking a significant risk with PlayBook, because of the enormous first-mover advantage enjoyed in this kind of product.  The quantity and quality of software is what will sell the hardware, and hardware sales attract developers in-turn.  It’s a chicken-egg situation that either results in a snowball-cum-avalanche or complete gridlock.  RIM is attempting to move the PlayBook by adding more features than Apple’s iPad, but they are features that do not offer the company additional revenue streams.  Connectivity through your Blackberry phone’s existing data connection means no revenue through sales of additional data plans.  And as I’ve already said, Flash support means that apps can run on the web instead of being sold in RIM’s version of the App Store.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the PlayBook was actually more expensive than the iPad, offering more features and more free content once you pay the upfront cost, and I don’t see that strategy dethroning El Jobso.  So where’s their edge (and you can’t feed me the BBM mantra anymore!)?

The stock market doesn’t appear to see one, as RIMM shares are trading down about 3% today while the broader market hovers around neutral to slightly positive.

[Wall Street Journal]

Apple to Unveil New Device that Prints Money

There’s naturally been a lot of speculation surrounding Apple’s “Music-centric” event that is set to kick off today.  Many suspect that the iPod Touch will be upgraded to include iPhone 4’s dual cameras for Facetime chatting over WiFi, and the WSJ has reported an agreement with ABC (Jobs is the largest shareholder of DIS) and FOX to offer $0.99 rentals of their popular TV shows.  Still others are hoping El Jobso will find the setting right, with Hulu+ introduced last month and Google’s TV platform built on Froyo, to officially unveil a set-top box for his self-described “hobby” AppleTV.

The stage is set.  The black turtle-necks are dry cleaned, and hopefully everyone is off the WiFi. The event will be streamed live to Apple devices starting at 1 PM EST – for those looking to follow along on a PC, there’s a little workaround here, or of course gizmodo.com has their liveblog as always.

AAPL is trading around 250 on a very strong market so far.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt: Your Crazy Ass Might Want to Think About a New Identity

Earlier this week Eric Schmidt sat down with the the Wall Street Journal and offered some interesting insights about the future of the web and mobile devices.  He also subtly pointed out that there are inherent social dangers within businesses like his own.

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says.

Let’s admit it: most people are idiots, and if there’s one thing idiots love it’s talking about themselves.  That and Farmville.  So everybody puts all this information out there just because they get a hardon from the idea that someone might care enough to actually read it.  Thanks for the update @SweetieBabe, I’m real glad you made it all the way to the grocery store!  Remember to pick up some Ammodium for that other problem you mentioned in your Facebook status.

So what happens when you need a job, but all the interviewer has to do is google your name to come up with 1000 pictures of you passed out covered in your own puke and trying all the GENIUS stuff you see on TV?

He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.

Hm.  Not bad.  Or we could just go back to the good old days when the Internet was the Wild West, and you didn’t have to worry that having a good time was going to make you a pariah at the ol’ water cooler…once you managed to stumble into the office.

WSJ

Market Watch: BP Sees Signs of Success, GOOG 6.45 EPS, GS Expected to Settle with SEC

3 big stories coming into the close today bear mentioning:

$BP announced a few minutes ago that they have seen at least some success (Maria Bartiromo chose her words very carefuly and so will I) with their latest attempt at capping the Deep Water Horizon well, and the ensuing integrity test.  “No oil flow into the Gulf” is the exact quote, but obviously no one’s ready to dust off that “Mission Accomplished” banner just yet! Traded up 10% going into the close pulling Transocean ($RIG) and Diamond Offshore ($DO) with them.

Click here for BP’s Live shot of the well.

Goldman Sachs ($GS) is expected to settle with the SEC soon for $550 M.  The alleviation of uncertainty surrounding their fraud case pulled shares up around 2% in after hours trading, and helped boost the financials and overall market to near even going into the close.

Google ($GOOG) reports earnings of $6.45 EPS missing the street’s estimated $6.51. Beat the street on the top line with Q2 revenue of $5.1B