Michael Grotticelli /
03.22.2010 10:44 AM
Google to enter the television business

Google, the leading player in Web search and advertising, has targeted the home television set as its next big challenge. The initiative is called Google TV, and the Internet giant’s partners in developing the new platform are Sony and Intel.

Google has teamed with Sony to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes, said a report in the “New York Times.” For Sony, which has struggled to retain a pricing and technological advantage in the highly competitive TV set market, the new partnership marks an effort to get ahead of its competitors.

The new technology runs on Google’s Android operating system, which uses Intel’s Atom chips. Android is mainly used now for mobile phones. The companies have built a prototype set-top box, but the technology may be incorporated directly into TVs or other devices, like Blu-ray players, the “Times” reported.

The partners envision the technology to make it as easy for TV users to navigate Web applications as it is to change the channel. The company intends to open the Google TV platform to software developers in the hopes of spurring the same creativity seen in mobile phone apps.

Google, Intel and Sony have chosen Logitech, a specialist in remote controls and computer speakers, for peripheral devices, including a remote with a tiny keyboard that will work with the new TVs.

The secret project has been underway for several months, according to those closely involved, although partners were prohibited from commenting publicly. “Google wants to be everywhere the Internet is so they can put ads there,” one of the people with knowledge of the project told the newspaper.

The companies appear to be hiring for Android-related jobs. Intel has listed jobs for senior application engineers with Android programming experience who can help extend Intel’s technology “from PC screen to mobile screen and TV screen.” Logitech also has several job listings for Android developers, including a position for an “embedded software engineer” with experience building “audio and video products based on the Android platform.”

Google TV will present users with a new interface, using its Chrome browser, for TVs that allows them perform Internet functions like search while also pulling down Web programming such as YouTube videos, Facebook or TV shows from Hulu.com. The project, the report said, is a pre-emptive move to allow Google to get a foothold into the living room as more consumers start exploring ways to bring Web content to their television sets.

The “Times” reported that Google TV’s set-top box technology has already been tested with Dish Network, one of Google’s longstanding partners. Dish Network declined to comment.

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