Back in May of this year, at its I/O Developer Conference, Google announced a new product, Google TV, which it described as “a new experience for television that combines the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the Internet”. Besides obvious possibilities, like displaying YouTube videos on your TV screen, the idea was to add the search and information resources of the Web, as well as its many sources of content, to the basic TV experience.
Earlier this week, Google unveiled some new pieces of the Google TV puzzle. There is now an official Google TV Blog; in the first post, the company reiterated its goal of creating an integrated TV and Internet environment:
By bringing Google Chrome and access to the entire Internet, you can easily navigate to thousands of websites to watch your favorite web videos, play Flash games, view photos, read movie reviews or chat with friends—all on the big screen.
Some of this might be quite appealing. When I was growing up, it was common for people to show their 35mm slides from, for example, their vacation, projected on a large screen. Looking at photos displayed on a tiny camera or cellphone screen lacks a little in impact by comparison. (Of course, many of those pictures were not really worth looking at in any case, but that’s a different problem.)
Google also identified some of the content providers it is working with on the project, including some cable networks (Turner and HBO), some video services (Amazon Video on Demand and Netflix), and some news organizations (USA Today and the New York Times). It has launched a new Google TV Web site, to give a preview of some ideas for the service, and a developer site focused, at least at present, on optimizing Web content for TV. The company also says that developers will be able to create and sell Android apps for Google TV.
The Google TV system will be delivered incorporated into TV sets, and as a stand-alone box. One of Google’s partners, Logitech, this week announced its first Google TV box, the Revue. The Revue also incorporates a video calling capability, which can connect to other Revue boxes, or to Macs or PCs running Logitech’s software. The “Gadget Lab” blog at Wired has a first-look article at th Logitech device, which is expected to be on sale by the end of October.
The Apple TV product has been on the market for a little while, but so far has not made a big splash. It will be interesting to see if Google can do better. Google’s interest in this market, at least, is easy to understand. The company sells advertising, and TV attracts the biggest chunk of advertising expenditure.