Google has lots going on lately and one of the things that sets Twitterland abuzz is the launch of the new Google TV service. Instead of having a TV screen on the one hand and a computer screen on the other hand, couch potatoes and geeks will finally be able to socialize... in front of a single, unified screen. Seriously.
What is Google TV?
Jokes aside, the idea behind that new service is quite smart. As announced at the company's Google I/O developers conference, Google TV is basically a web-powered TV, a full web browser directly on your TV screen, a web-TV hub - you name it -... where you can browse for the things you want to watch - anything, anywhere (well, this is the whole idea behind the web, right?), in any language and at any time (insomniacs, you're going to like this - or not).
Evidently, the programs/shows/videos you want to access have to be available on the web to start with.
Technically speaking, Google TV supports flash technology and "all input devices for Google TV will have QWERTY keyboards, but users will often navigate using a directional pad," the company said on the Google TV developer page.
From its presentation so far, it looks like Yahoo is only offering widget-based content specifically designed for TV experience. Among available widgets, the company cites Amazon, Blockbuster, NBC, Twitter, YouTube, USA Today, eBay, Facebook, CBS, Showtime "and many others".
Google's competitor has also made the choice not to provide keybords.
Yahoo, however, works with more partners: it has Sony, LG, Samsung and Vizio.
Wondering how much it will cost?
So are we. So far, no such details have been disclosed. What we do know is that you can either have the service directly integrated to your new TV set (Sony is Google's partner on this one) or plug a set-top box (Logitech is the point partner for that one) to your existing device. So in terms of cost, it seems it will amount to the price of a brand new Google-TV-enabled screen or that of the external box.
Then, add the cost of your internet connection, Wi-Fi specifically to be able to share across various screens if you wish to do so. An you're all set.
Who's going to hate - or love - Google TV?
First, the cable guys won't be too happy if you no longer subscribe or if slash back your subscription dramatically as Google TV will offer you free of charge what cable companies have had you pay for all those years.
Second, content providers and program gurus may have to readjust their marketing and selling processes to adapt to a new type of hybrid audience.
Marketers and brands are likely to love this shift as is means that ads and particularly rich media ads will have more stickiness and an integrated audience.
It is not clear at the moment whether Google TV intends to insert its own advertising within the system. If it does, then it may spoil the gadget...
Last point: privacy
Given today's context of tension regarding privacy issues, we'd be ill-inspired to not bring the subject to the table. A web-fed TV has indeed this particularity that searches may well be able, sooner than one thinks, to yield results of your favourite shows. It also means that marketers will be able to track what you watch or look for, for how long, how often...
Google TV in the end, brings search and analytics data to the forefront of the marketing game again.
Here's Google's presentation.
Yes. Of course. Smart. Communicating through a broadcast channel, YouTube. So are you buying in ?