When it comes to the mediums that it plays in, Google could sit back and remain content with its strong position on the desktop and mobile devices.
But as successful as it is, the company stiill sees opportunity to create a bigger footprint.
One of the mediums in which it’s hoping its footprint can extend: television.
The potential of Google’s vision for the future of the small screen is obvious: television-web convergence. But no matter how compelling the vision, the proof is in the pudding, and thus far the company’s Google TV pudding isn’t looking so great.
But that isn’t stopping the search giant from trying to move Google TV forward.
Last week, Google confirmed that it will bring Google TV to the U.K. later this year. Will content creators and distributors in the U.K. be any more receptive than their counterparts across the pond in the U.S.? That remains to be seen.
Given the muted interest in Google TV there, it’s possible that television players in the U.K. won’t be as worried about Google’s intentions, perhaps allowing the company a greater ability to court consumers.
The question: how will Google drum up the kind of interest in the U.K. that it wasn’t able to drum up in the U.S.? One part of the answer: it needs compelling applications.
So in a natural move, Google yesterday released a preview of a Google TV add-on for the Android SDK. According to the Google TV blog:
While the add-on does not contain all features of Google TV, it enables developers to emulate Google TV and build apps using standard Android SDK tools. It also provides new APIs for TV interaction, such as TV channel line-up.
Not surprisingly, Android apps built for Google TV will be distributed through a TV-specific version of the Android Market that displays only apps that are compatible with Google TV and that adhere to its UI guidelines.
Some developers will be pleased to find that their existing Android apps are already Google TV ‘ready‘, while others may need to make modifications.
Of course, while there will almost certainly be developer interest in TV, Google will likely face a chicken-egg dilemma.
Without consumers, there’s little incentive for developers to develop apps, and without compelling applications, consumers aren’t going to rush out to buy Google TV-equipped televisions, or add-on hardware.
While one might point out that Google has been successful with Android on mobile devices, the television market is not the mobile market.
Google will need to address that, and it will need to do so relatively quickly. The company’s poor showing in the U.S. has caused quite a few observers to write Google TV off.
If the product receives a similarly cold welcome in the U.K., Google itself may be forced to write it off.