Google Announces New TV Platform

Internet powerhouse Google is teaming up with some consumer electronics heavy hitters to launch “Google TV,” a new platform it hopes will extend the company’s search engine capabilities to combine Web video and traditional TV sets.

“Introducing Google TV”
Google made its announcement on Thursday at its Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, claiming that the new platform will “change the future of television” by combining “the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the Internet.” Google is partnering with Sony, which will market the service in its new “Sony Internet TV,” a package that will launch this fall that combines a Sony Bravia HDTV set with a Sony Blu-ray DVD player with Internet access. (Sony already has an IP-based Blu-ray player, the BDP-N460, which includes the Bravia Internet Video Platform.)

Google TV will be powered by the Intel Atom CE4100 chipset, which will also be in Logitech standalone Google TV boxes that will go on sale this fall at Best Buy stores nationwide. Dish Network, which has been beta testing the service with 400 of its subscribers, also said it plans to integrate the Google TV software into all of its HD DVR receivers. Prices for the hardware or service were not disclosed.

Although recent forays by companies like Boxee and Roku, which supplies video streaming boxes for Netflix, have begun to see some consumer acceptance, efforts over the years to combine the traditional TV set with Internet video have been less than successful. Apple, which tried to use its iTunes platform to marry TV and the Internet via its Apple TV platform is a noteworthy failure in this regard. Nevertheless, Google, which claims its Android-based TV platform will break down the walls that separate Internet video and TV thinks it has found the answer. The company urged attendees at this week’s developer’s conference to begin optimizing their Web sites for the Google TV platform.

“Soon after launch, we’ll release the Google TV SDK and Web APIs for TV so that developers can build even richer applications and distribute them through Android Market,” the company said on its blog.

Using a special remote control with a built in keyboard, Google TV’s Chrome browser-based search engine will allow users to access TV shows and video content on both traditional carriers such as cable and satellite as well as on the Internet. So, for example, a search for the TV show “Bones,” will display results from Fox on Demand, as well as allow the user to purchase the show on Amazon. Google TV will include Adobe Flash Player 10.1.

Perhaps one of the more telling conclusions from the announcement though, was that after years of attempting to move the television experience out of the home and into mobile devices or onto PCs, the Internet giant joins consumer electronics manufacturers in acknowledging that consumers still value the traditional TV watching experience in the living room.

“If there’s one entertainment device that people know and love, it’s the television,” the company said. “By giving people the power to experience what they love on TV and on the web on a single screen, Google TV turns the living room into a new platform for innovation.”