Google Shows How to Get Around an Obstacle

The television industry has been in an uproar as of late. Traditional forms of distribution have found themselves at odds with Internet startups that wanted to bypass old systems and create new paths to customers. Search and mobile giant Google has been trying to break down the walls for years, only to be repulsed time and again by entrenched interests.

But a new development may be the right tool for Google to break into the business in a big way. And the process it has used should be of interest to anyone who has or will pursue an MBA degree or other type of business education.

Google is ultimately interested in learning as much about consumers as it possibly can. The more background it has, whether on individuals or in segmented aggregates, the more it can charge for advertisement and marketing services, as well as more effectively appeal to consumers, strengthening customer loyalty.

Knowing about media consumption habits is an important part of this plan. Consumers can show their affinity for certain types of entertainment. Knowing the shows, combined with demographic and behavioral data, could allow marketers to more effectively target where their ads run. That breaks the traditional mass media approach to advertising — reach lots of people and hope a good number respond — on which the television industry has relied and that Google would be comfortable dismantling.

Time and again, Google has tried to make inroads into the TV business, only to be repulsed. When it first announced Google TV without getting cooperation from the Hollywood studios, some of the major studios blocked the device from show websites.

The newest development is called Google Chromecast. Plug the HDMI connector dongle into a television set and suddenly you can project services like YouTube or Netflix, or even tabs from a Google Chrome browser, from virtually any type of computer, whether PC, tablet or smartphone. In other words, the device effectively puts the Internet onto a television set, whether the studios like it or not. And it’s only $35, which easily puts it within reach of many millions of consumers.

It’s a clever approach that neatly walks around the barriers the studios can erect by forcing them to choose: lock out Google along with the rest of the Internet, or learn to get along. It shows the importance of strategic planning when designing products. Not only is a new product about features and benefits, but also about considering all the different possible paths you might take to reach the consumer and evade competitors.