Wow, this will come as a surprise to all but seasoned commentators who’ve been watching Google putting various pieces of the puzzle into place. They call it Fiber TV and it launched today alongside Google’s fiber-optic Internet service in Kansas City. For starters, Google Fiber pumps data a hundred times faster than today’s average broadband.
With gigabit speeds you get a very advanced television which lets you record up to 500 hours of programming and up to eight shows at once, including Netflix access and all of YouTube. A combined gigabit Internet package with Fiber TV service will run you $120 a month. This is real TV, folks, with premium programming, a full channel lineup and optional paid content.
Opting for just gigabit Internet will set you back $70 a month with a one-year contract. Google won’t throttle your speed or impose bandwidth caps and is sweetening the deal with a free 1TB Google Drive. Heck, you can even get gigabit Internet for free by paying for a one-time $300 construction fee. As an icing on the cake, Google is throwing a free Nexus 7 tablet with each Fiber TV subscription…
The Verge reports that the Fiber TV plan costs $120 a month, plus a $300 construction fee (waived if you sign a two-year contract, per Google’s post). Accompanying apps for iOS and Android have also been announced:
Google also announced apps for iOS and Android that let you search for things to watch (by text or by voice), and control both live TV and DVR.
The Nexus 7, for instance, will come with a Fiber TV app — and there’s a free Nexus 7 included in the TV package. There’s a lot more coming for the apps, too: you’ll be able to tune automatically from your Google+ stream, for instance.
Google also said that in the future you’ll be able to stream content to your iOS and Android devices using these apps. Along with a full channel lineup and premium paid channels, Fiber TV also streams all of YouTube and Netflix and lets you record shows. And of course Fiber TV will integrate with social networks:
You’ll also be able to watch different shows, on different TVs and devices, in the same house all at the same time. There will be “tens of thousands” of movies and shows on demand, all of which you’ll be able to watch on multiple devices.
According to a post over at the Google Fiber KC Blog, people who live in the Kansas City area can pre-register their interest by September 9. Note you will need to provide your name, address and pay a $10 deposit. One more thing: Google won’t be deploying fiber optics unless enough “fiberhoods” pre-register by September 9.
Details about Fiber TV and high-speed Internet service for businesses will be released in due time.
To access gigabit Internet, you’ll need Google’s network device which combines a gigabit router and firewall with high-speed WiFi. Fiber TV requires another box, a DVR with a two terabyte drive that can record up to eight shows at once and a total of 500 hours of HD content.
This is obviously big.
Apple, as you know, has long be rumored to be interested in bringing a connected HD TV set to the market, though some speculate that tricky content deals and resistance from market incumbents – namely cable TV operators – has hampered Apple’s efforts.
Cupertino sells the $99 Apple TV set-top box and continues to think of it as a hobby. The Apple TV sold an impressive 1.3 million units last quarter, a 170 percent year-over-year increase. Current-year Apple TV sales topped four million units. Cumulatively, there are 6.8 million AirPlay-ready HDTVs in the wild.
No matter how you look at it, that’s not a small number.
I do think Apple needs to make the definite move in the TV market, especially with Google moving aggressively with the Google TV platform and this new Fiber TV service.
And let’s not forget that Samsung has seen notable success with its Smart TVs which are getting better and better and that other competing TV set makers are reportedly forming Smart TV alliances as a precautionary measure should Apple decide to “crack the code” to modern television, as Jobs told his biographer.
Would you sign up for Google’s Fiber TV service?