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Visions of Android@Home Dance in Google's Head

Visions of Android@Home Dance in Google's Head

Like the Android system controls the smartphone, this Android@Home will control your home life. Using your mobile phone or tablet computer or other new remote control, you'll be able to do all sorts of things. It will open and close your drapes, brew your coffee, turn on the lights, turn off the alarm system, turn down the HVAC in unoccupied rooms, and so many more things.

By Jeff Kagan
05/19/11 5:00 AM PT

Let's take a peak into the future. Over the next few years, we will see the industry continue to transform itself. Industry leaders may change. We have seen that happen in the smartphone industry already. Are telephone and cable television companies next?

Companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and Cox have a target painted on them, and Google is an expert shot.

My Pick of the Week topic: Verizon is working with Healthsense on an innovative mHealth offering for seniors.

Major Disruption

It's hard to contemplate, but transformative companies like Google and Apple will continue to change everything. Over just the past four years, these two companies have already begun to transform the wireless industry -- specifically the smartphone space. They now lead. Just a few years ago, leaders were companies like RIM and Palm.

Google is much more than search today; however, its search remains incredibly successful with 93.7 percent market share revenues in the U.S., according to Scott Cleland of Precursor, author of a new book called Search & Destroy.

What is Google doing that makes me say we should think about it moving into and disrupting the traditional telephone and cable television space? Let's take a look. This could be very disturbing if you have not thought about it yet. It could impact every worker, investor, partner and customer.

A New World at Home

Last week, Google introduced a new idea called "Android@Home." This is not yet a product, but it is its dream. When other companies talk about their dreams, we take it with a grain of salt, but when Google talks, we realize it is already moving very quickly.

First generations with Google are not always the best. Remember the first Android phone on T-Mobile after the Apple iPhone was introduced? It was a flop. Yet it did get Google into the wireless field, and it did learn some very important lessons. The second version a year later was a hit, and it keeps getting bigger and growing like crazy.

That's how Google works. It jumps in and changes as it grows. That is the opposite of other companies, which don't jump in until they are convinced they've got it right. Those companies actually don't have it right -- and they have to make the same ongoing adjustments as Google anyway. This method gives the impression that Google grows and changes quickly. And it does.

When I heard about Android@Home, I realized it was the first step into a new world Google is not yet saying much about. This has to do with the cool things Google wants to do for you in your home. Like the Android system controls the smartphone, this Android@Home will control your home life.

Using your mobile phone or tablet computer or other new remote control, you'll be able to do all sorts of things. It will open and close your drapes, brew your coffee, turn on the lights, turn off the alarm system, turn down the HVAC in unoccupied rooms, and so many more things.

We'll likely download apps to do more with the system at home. That means the app environment will continue to grow. Apps for smartphones. Apps for tablet computers. Apps for Android@Home. Apps for whatever will come next. And there will be much more to come.

OK, this is exciting, but it's also a big threat to traditional companies. What should we expect next?

The Government Is Watching

I firmly believe that Google has its eyes on the bigger picture -- in this case, the home phone and cable television services. That means as part of a bigger bundle, Google will compete with telephone and cable TV and IPTV services. Depending on how you look at it, this can be good or bad, but either way it will be disruptive.

Google is already in the early stages of ruling and changing the wireless world. Customers love it, but competitors don't. Why stop there? There is an entire other world of opportunity to also rule -- the wireline space.

Traditional telephone and cable television companies are at risk as Google grows and transforms the space. Today they all work with Google in one form or another. Will that change? Will Google become the major competitor going forward? Yes, I think that will happen. And if that is the case, will Google continue working with these other companies?

This could have a major impact on all sorts of companies, like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, CenturyLink, Windstream, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, CableVision, and all the smaller companies as well.

As an example, look at traditional smartphone leaders like RIM, which is now struggling as Google and Apple transform the space. The transformation is good. It's what these traditional companies should have done themselves. However, now they have a tough time keeping up. That wave of innovation continues to challenge the status quo. That is good.

On the other hand, if Google becomes that important, it will become a big target for the government. Remember Microsoft? It was like Google through the 1980s and 1990s. We praised its growth and ingenuity. Then it became too big and powerful. That's when the government had to step in and, well, castrate it. Ouch.

How long does it take for a company's growing wave to crest -- for it to capture the government's attention and then battle for its life? Google is not ready for that yet, but at some point it will be. As good as one company is, when it becomes too successful, the government always steps in.

Change Is Certain

We don't know today exactly what the marketplace will look like going forward. We don't know the products and services. We don't know what competitors will jump in. We don't know how the traditional companies will suffer and react. We don't know how we will think about this entire telephone and television space going forward.

One thing we should know is we will think very differently than we do today. After all, just look at the smartphone industry as an example. Five years ago, smartphones were RIM's BlackBerry and Palm's Treo. They were growing around 15 percent per year, and there were a few hundred apps. During the last few years, the smartphone market has exploded with growth, and the leaders are Google and Apple.

While we don't have all the answers yet, I think it's clear that with companies like Google and Apple leading the marketplace, we can expect things will look very different, very quickly.
Jeff Kagan's Pick of the Week

My Pick of the Week is about Verizon working with Healthsense on an innovative mHealth offering for seniors. Healthsense is a telehealth and remote monitoring company.

It provides things like activity monitors for the home and the ability to call nursing stations. These monitors check users' activities in the home. They monitor things like how often toilets are used, or when doors open and close.

If activity is outside of expectations, doctors or nurses are notified to check on patients, as Healthsense president Brian Bischoff describes it.

Verizon provides the network connection. This is intended to be marketed to assisted living facilities and senior centers. This is part of the next generation of services we will be using going forward.

Brian Bischoff even talks about the next step for both Healthsense and Verizon: expanding telemedicine with a remote physician visiting in patient's homes. That's right -- just like the Emergency Medical Hologram on the Star Trek: Voyager TV series. Beam me up, Scotty! Incredible.


Jeff Kagan is an E-Commerce Times columnist and industry analyst following wireless, telecom and healthcare technology. He is also an author, speaker and consultant. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. Read the first chapters of his new book Life After Stroke, now available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.


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