Google TV – the next new must-have technology?

Google has never hidden the fact that want to be everywhere you are. They wanted to be in front of you on your work PC and home PC, and their desktop products have done that with tremendous success. They wanted to be in front of your on your mobile device. Enter the Android mobile operating system which spawned a slew of sleek new mobile devices, aimed directly at the iPhone and Windows mobile.

What’s left?

According to Google, there are 4 billion television viewers worldwide. And Google wants to be right there in front of you. Let’s face it – today’s modern high definition television sets are far more pleasant to watch then even the best PC or laptop monitor. Why would you want to view your web content on your laptop, when you could do it on a 50 inch high-definition plasma television, while you sit back on your sofa? Google points out that American’s spend an average of 5 hours per day watching television, and they feel there is an opportunity to use those 5 hours to enhance your home internet experience. So last week at their annual Google I/O Developers conference, they announced their next new technological initiative – Google TV.

To boldly go where others have failed before

So why hasn’t anyone else thought of integrating the internet with television before. Well, they have. Anyone remember WebTV – Microsoft’s experiment that failed? What about some of the internet features built into TV’s and Blu-Ray players for the last few years? Limited in features and no way to use a real keyboard or pointing device. Well Google plans on changing all of that and fixing what’s wrong, in their opinion, with all previous attempts to bring the online world together with television

TV Meets Web. Web Meets TV.

Google set 3 primary goals for Google TV.

  • Take less time to find what you want to watch
  • Control and personalize what you watch
  • Make content more interesting

The Google TV platform will accomplish this with an open-source platform that can be integrated into televisions, Blu-ray players, and dedicated set-top boxes that can communicate with your cable or satellite box. In addition, the spec calls for the devices to have WiFi and ethernet built-in, fast processors, dedicate graphics chips, HDMI connections, high definition and surround sound support, and full support for keyboard and pointing devices. The operating system will be based on Android 2.1 (the powerful platform used by the Droid-line of mobile handsets). Naturally, the browser built into Google TV will be Chrome, and it will include full support for Flash 10.1 (a point Google was clear to point out to their developers – another shot right at Apple).

One platform for multiple devices

Since Google chose to base Google TV on the Android platform, almost all Android apps will work unmodified on Google TV, creating a unified experience between your mobile device and your home television. But they can’t really take credit for that innovation – Apple did the same thing with the iPad and how it supports almost all iPhone apps without modification. The big difference here is that all of this is happening ON  YOUR TELEVISION.

Will Google TV revolutionize home entertainment, or will it fall by the way-side like others in the past? We’ll find out in the Fall of 2010 as Google TV devices begin shipping. Initially, Sony will be offering Google TV-enabled sets this year, with others to follow next year. You can read more about Google TV here, as well as view some video clips from the Google I/O Conference.

One thing is for sure — if it DOES take off, and you have a web site, you had better make sure that it is properly formatted for display on a Google TV device. I, for one, am excited to see where this goes.

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