I had a chance to play with Google TV this past weekend at Best Buy, where there was a helpful blue-shirted employee doing a great job explaining the Sony set's benefits. Or, at least how the search function worked.
He didn't really understand how the apps worked, and couldn't really explain why I'd want to use them, and so I said "well, let's check out the Twitter one." Here's the roadblock we hit...
Now, I wasn't really up for logging into Twitter in the middle of Best Buy with my personal account...so we didn't get past this screen. But this shouldn't have been the first screen.
Twitter recently spent a bunch of cycles improving the first time user experience -- especially for users that have yet to make the leap into the registration process -- so that they can get a taste of what's available on Twitter without having to make the leap. If ever there were a use case where the logged out state could be interesting and valuable, it's with a device like Google TV.
Google TV shouldn't just be another Twitter client, it should be a contextual Twitter client. See that picture-in-picture frame right there? The device knows what we're watching right now, and so why not make the default view a real time search for tweets related to the show we're watching? (It would be our own personal #vma display.) And if there's not enough context to display real-time context, then take advantage of our history with the device. It knows what shows we've searched for, what movies we've watched -- the default screen should present streams of tweets based on that information, along with recommended bundles of accounts to follow that would grease the funnel through the registration flow.
But, speaking of that registration flow... I used the first person plural in that last paragraph on purpose. I don't have the data behind this, but I've got to believe that an awful lot of television watching happens with other people in the room. Would I even want to sign in to Google TV with my Twitter account? Why not my wife's? Or my daughter's? Fighting over the remote is one thing, fighting over personalized display of information layered on top of the show everyone in the room is watching is another.
Somewhere back in 2008, I silenced a debate about LOST spoilers with the simple declaration that real fans watch. Twitter's in a great position to help broadcast television become relevant again, by providing a communal experience (nb: potentially distinct from a "community" experience) layered on top of live television. But there's more work to do...