Google TV, you say?
Yep, the search engine giant’s getting into the telly business. In fact, Google TV launched in the States last March.
Are Google trying to put manufacturers out of business, making their own brand of plasmas and the like?
Not exactly. What they’ve done is to integrate search, apps, web and television, essentially turning TV sets into giant iPads. Or giant Android tablet computers, as they’d probably prefer to put it.
Sounds exciting. How does it work?
Well, you either buy a Google-ready Sony Internet TV, which has the Google TV components and Android-based software pre-installed, or you buy a set-top box and connect that to your telly. Once done, you can search across every channel, every app and the entire web simultaneously via your TV.
So you mean I could be watching The X Factor and look up an act’s Wikipedia page while the programme’s on?
Precisely. You could even have both on screen at the same time. And if you’ve installed an X Factor app, you can call that up, too.
Neat. Does it do anything else?
Yes, you can use your phone as a remote, and apparently you can even search with your voice. Plus you can give your TV a home screen, like an iGoogle homepage, with all your favourite channels, apps and websites on it.
The future has arrived!
Not so fast. It hasn’t been quite the runaway success you might imagine in America. In fact, Sony and Logitech, the makers of the Google TV set-top boxes, have had to slash their prices to try to drum up sales. The problem is that Stateside TV companies have pulled the rug out from under the service by banning Google TV from hosting their streaming content, meaning that there’s little or no catch-up TV available via Google.
Yeah, it’s a big problem. And in this country it’ll be going up against YouView, a rival internet TV joint venture between Britain’s terrestrial broadcasters, which presumably means it’ll suffer a similar lack of content here, too.
Ulp indeed. But look at the bigger picture: this is clearly the way TV’s going to evolve, eventually. It just mightn’t be the right time for it yet. I mean, despite everyone seizing on Eric Schmidt citing Google TV as the future of television, he’s actually conceded that it’ll be either Google “or perhaps one of the competitors that will emerge”, who might manage to leap the hurdles that Google TV’s faced thus far.
When’s it coming to Blighty, then?
Google haven’t announced a date yet, but apparently it’ll be later this year. Interestingly, YouView hope to have a trial product out here at the end of the year, too.
Exactly. It’ll be an interesting winter for techies this year…