Google TV: Coming Soon to Your Living Room

Google, Intel and Sony are collaborating on a new TV format called Google TV. Google TV will integrate Web and TV via a set-top box and new TV format. You’ll be able to browse between Web services and TV seamlessly, using your smartphone or a keyboard-equipped remote control. Google search, of course, will be integrated throughout. The New York Times has the story:

The move is an effort by Google and Intel to extend their dominance of computing to television, an arena where they have little sway. For Sony, which has struggled to retain a pricing and technological advantage in the competitive TV hardware market, the partnership is an effort to get a leg up on competitors.

The Google TV software will present users with a new interface for TVs that lets them perform Internet functions like search while also pulling down Web programming like YouTube videos or TV shows from Hulu.com. The technology will also allow downloadable Web applications, like games and social networks, to run on the devices.

The partners will face a crowded field. In addition to the makers of traditional cable and satellite set-top boxes, Cisco Systems and Motorola, many others have entered the game, including Microsoft, Apple, TiVo and start-up companies like Roku and Boxee, which already stream video from Netflix, MLB.com and other Web sites directly to television sets. Yahoo is also promoting a TV platform that uses small software programs called widgets to use certain Web services.

Some existing televisions and set-top boxes offer access to Web content, but the choice of sites is limited. Google intends to open its TV platform, which is based on its Android operating system for smartphones, to software developers. The company hopes the move will spur the same outpouring of creativity that consumers have seen in applications for cellphones. Google is expected to deliver a toolkit to outside programmers within the next couple of months, and products based on the software could appear as soon as this summer.

Read the whole story here
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Today’s set-top boxes make it easy enough to watch YouTube, rent videos, listen to music, and search the Web. However, there’s no standard or mass market set-top box–yet. This could be because their interfaces are clumsy, which a good interface and widget setup could solve. Google and its competitors want to stake out this mass-market space.

Ultimately, our TVs will probably turn into giant Internet receivers. Google wants to have its interfaces and ads in front of you when that happens.

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