For nearly as long as the internet has been available to the general public, entrepreneurs and technologists have dreamed of the convergence of the television and the web. From WebTV to today's internet-enabled gaming consoles, the small screen and the internet have been introduced to each other.

But the type of convergence that many have predicted and sought to create has remained elusive. The world's biggest search engine, however, hopes to change that.

Yesterday, Google announced Google TV, and behind the unassuming name is one of the company's most ambitious initiatives. Google TV product manager Salahuddin Choudhary explains:

Google TV is a new experience for television that combines the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the Internet. With Google Chrome built in, you can access all of your favorite websites and easily move between television and the web. This opens up your TV from a few hundred channels to millions of channels of entertainment across TV and the web. Your television is also no longer confined to showing just video. With the entire Internet in your living room, your TV becomes more than a TV — it can be a photo slideshow viewer, a gaming console, a music player and much more.

Google TV uses search to give you an easy and fast way to navigate to television channels, websites, apps, shows and movies. For example, already know the channel or program you want to watch? Just type in the name and you’re there. Want to check out that funny YouTube video on your 48” flat screen? It’s just a quick search away. If you know what you want to watch, but you’re not sure where to find it, just type in what you’re looking for and Google TV will help you find it on the web or on one of your many TV channels. If you’d rather browse than search, you can use your standard program guide, your DVR or the Google TV home screen, which provides quick access to all of your favorite entertainment so you’re always within reach of the content you love most.

The announcement of Google TV was the centerpiece of the Google I/O conference, and for good reason. If Google succeeds in merging the best of the internet with the best of the small screen, it will become, as CNet's Tom Krazit puts it, "a new consumer electronics power broker."

But can it succeed? Google appears to be off to a good start. It managed to bring seven CEOs from top technology, consumer electronics, media and retail companies on stage for its announcement. And it has already forged partnerships with Sony and Logitech to bundle Google TV with televisions that will be available at Best Buy stores as early as this fall. Google TV will also be included in blu-ray players and for consumers who don't want a new television or blu-ray player, companion boxes will also be sold. Best Buy CEO Bryan Dunn, who participated in the Google TV launch, referred to Google's newest initiative as "not just a new aisle but a new category."

One of the reasons he might be so excited is that Google TV is a platform. Google TV is based on Android, and soon developers and media companies will have access to a Google TV SDK and APIs so that they can build web-based applications designed specifically for the television. Not surprisingly, those applications will be available for download and purchase via the Android Marketplace.

In essence, Google is attempting to do for television what Apple has done for mobile. And if it succeeds in building the App Store of the small screen, it will not only have built a new market Apple has tried and failed to develop, it will potentially be in a stronger position to dent Apple's mobile dominance. After all, Android is holding its own in mobile. It will have a place in the nascent tablet market, and the soon-to-be-released Froyo update includes Flash support, something iPad owners say they want.

In many ways, Google seems to be making all the right moves with Android, and if Android also becomes a viable platform for reaching a large number of consumers via the television, it will be awfully difficult for developers and media companies to ignore Android. After all, more screens can mean more revenue. Driving home the potential here: Americans watch nearly 35 hours of television every week; they spend just under 4 browsing the internet. According to Nielsen, simultaneous television viewing and internet browsing is on the rise, hinting that consumers might be ready for the kind of new television-web entertainment experiences Google TV could bring to the masses.

Of course, Google needs more than just vision to succeed with Google TV; it needs execution. And the company's track record here is spotty at best of late. That said, Google TV might be one of the most important things the company has attempted, and that alone makes it worth getting at least a little bit excited about.

Photo credit: dailylifeofmojo via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 21 May, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (7)

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movie reviews

This idea of google sounds great but for this I need to have another box which is really making me think whether to buy or not but even I am tired of my direct TV interface.

about 8 years ago

Ed Stivala

Ed Stivala, Managing Director at n3w media

I agree this will come down to the execution. Whilst the web is talking mainly about Google TV, we shouldn't forget that it isn't the only game in town.

Yahoo! Connected TV has been out for a while (of which Sony was / is part of consortium). Their SDK for creating web app widgets has been available, but I hear little about adoption. 

Also this week Project Canvass from the BBC made a stride forward. Now there is a group that understand the world of TV broadcast and have a strong brand recognition amongst the mass populace for products such as the iPlayer.

I can imagine that Google will fight hard, after all it's core business is serving ads based on search, so being left behind on web TV could be potentially disastrous. 

No doubt there will be different standards and approaches. Perhaps we are on the verge of seeing the browser wars being replaced by the TV Set Wars  :) 

Interesting times

about 8 years ago

Luciano Timm

Luciano Timm, Marketing Director at EF Education First

hmmmm I wonder that PS3 users are doing it for years now... 

about 8 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at EconsultancyStaff

I've long predicted that Google would do this as it's an obvious extension to their mission statement "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" which has never been device/channel-specific. Hence also their mobile moves. 

Their acquisition of YouTube, in my mind, was always about buying the TV infrastructure of the future. And a very big barrier to competition (as with their search engine) is the sheer computing / serving / streaming infrastructure that's required to actually make this stuff work. 

But what interests me most about this, and, again, I'm surprised that broadcasters perhaps haven't seen this coming, is that it is hugely disruptive, perhaps 'destructive', of their entire businesses in the mid term. 

In the UK I'd say that Sky perhaps has the most to lose. The likes of ITV, Channel 4, Five have long since lost the battle in my view - there is no future in channel brands like this. They are already marginalised by existing EPGs (Electronic Programming Guides likes Sky's) because you choose content (a program) not a channel. But with Google TV and the likes they are really completely meaningless. There is a good future for content producers (including the BBC) and rights owners but not broadcast brands who typically don't own the IP to the content. 

But Sky currently dominates the pay TV market and makes money out of its EPG by charging other channels to 'rank' in it, not unlike Google's paid search ads. 

But Google could cut Sky out of the loop completely. We still need much better, faster, more reliable broadband to make this a reality. And, of course, Google will need to buy up the rights to key content. But Google isn't short of cash. What happens if Google outbid Sky on the all the key sporting content that originally built Sky's business? Why won't that happen? That's what I'd do if I were Google. Overnight I'd swoop in and buy up all the best content. Would that kill Sky? It killed Setanta Sports very quickly...

Certainly, Messrs Murdoch must see the Big G as Public Enemy Number One if they didn't already. 

about 8 years ago



Convergence is disaster. It will never work. I graduated dreaming and ultimately working in mobile convergence which didn't live up to it's expectation. I doubt that Google TV will bring something which appeals to the masses.

over 7 years ago


Movie Reviews

It seems to be really exciting. Google always brings innovative solutions, let's see if Google TV will live up to the hype?

over 7 years ago



when it is going to be launched?

about 7 years ago

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