Google TV faces living room challenges
Google has launched a searchable TV service – imaginatively branded Google TV – and says sets featuring the service should be available by Christmas.
The company faces a stiff challenge breaking into a living room arena that has proved a graveyard for web-based innovation.
At the heart of Google TV is an on-screen search box, which accesses Google search to find live programmes, local recordings and the web, all of which can be navigated using a remote control.
“Video should be consumed on the biggest, best and brightest screen in the house. And that’s a TV. It’s not a PC or a phone or anything else in between,” said Google project senior product manager Rishi Chandra.
Sony said it would build a Google TV-enabled set, while Logitech plans a set-top box that will work with existing high-definition TVs. Availability on this side of the Atlantic remains unclear.
It’s not the first time technologists have tried to marry television with the internet – Microsoft and Apple have both struggled to flourish in the living room, but Google executives said previous efforts had failed because they dumbed down the web for television and failed to get enough content partners on board.
“It’s much harder to marry a 50-year-old technology and a brand new technology than those of us in the brand new technology industry thought,” said Google chief executive Eric Schmidt.
Google faces a copyright and licensing minefield in porting content over from its YouTube channel to Google TV, because content providers fear the changes could erode existing business models.
But chief among the questions hanging over the service and its hardware is the price – including Intel’s CE4100, a system-on-a-chip processor.
“If this thing costs 900 bucks (£625), forget it. This is going to have to be right about where a phone is, $250,” said Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney of Logitech’s set top box.
Any internet-based TV service in the UK will also rely on the quality of home broadband connections, which could drastically reduce the Google TV’s potential footprint.