Just when you thought Google had stretched itself out to all corners of the tech world, the company finds a new arena to do battle in: the budding Internet TV industry. There are already Internet-enabled television sets and set-top boxes that allow you to access the web, but Google’s approach has one massive difference in that its GoogleTV will be based off of Android and, as such, be an open platform.
The search-engine-turned-everything is partnering up with Intel and Sony to deliver its service to Internet-enabled TVs and set-top boxes of its own, while working with Logitech to deliver peripherals for the service. The idea of Google being so hardware-heavy is kind of an odd one, though the company reportedly already has a prototype set-top box complete and could even integrate the technology directly into television sets.
GoogleTV would allow you to access sites such as Twitter and Picasa from your living room couch — something out services already offer, even a Roku could give you something similar — but that open platform is something Google hopes will inspire the same breadth and width in development that it has for mobile phones. This will allow Google to go where the Internet does, extending its search and ad service to televisions before too many other companies get entrenched in the market.
That doesn’t mean companies haven’t already put down roots, according to The New York Times:
“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.”
Those companies have come out swinging, too, such as Anthony Wood, founder and chief executive of Roku, who criticized Google’s approach by telling the New York Times that “on the TV, people want specific TV apps, not a browser experience.”
That very well may be, but just the thought of an open Internet TV experience and the things creative developers could do with it is exciting in itself. Tack on to that Google’s track record, and we’re very interested in seeing more — and we may not have to wait long, as iterations of GoogleTV could appear as soon as this summer.