Google I/O is only a few days away, and things are going to be exciting!
After dominating search and making inroads on the smartphone market, Google apparently has its sights set on a new target: the TV in your living room.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that Google, Intel and Sony are poised to unveil “Smart TV,” a new platform for Net-connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes, at a Google developer conference later this week.
Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal got the ball rolling late last month, reporting that Google’s new TV platform would be powered by a custom version of Android — the platform behind such phones as theMotorola Droid on Verizon and the upcoming HTC Evo 4G for Sprint — as well as Intel’s Atom processor.
Sony is reportedly looking to integrate Google’s Smart TV platform into its TVs and at least one set-top box, the Journal reports, while Logitech is working on a keyboard-equipped remote, according to Bloomberg.
The deal may be unveiled as early as Wednesday or Thursday at Google’s I/O conference, where the search giant may “call on its Android development community” to start building apps for TVs, the Financial Times claimed in a report Sunday.
So, what exactly are we talking about here with Smart TV? Details are still sketchy, of course, but Bloomberg describes it as a platform in which “Internet access will be integrated with advanced television guides, personal content libraries and search.”
In other words, think of an on-screen programming grid imbued with Google-enhanced data and search results, for starters. I’d also expect integrated YouTube, along with Smart TV apps for such usual suspects as (and I’m just speculating here, by the way) Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, MLB.tv and so on.
If Google does reveal its rumored Smart TV platform this week, it’ll be entering a field already crowded by such players as Roku (with its popular Roku Player, priced at $79 and up), the upcoming Boxee set-top box, Walmart-owned Vudu (which has its streaming platform installed on LG, Samsung and Vizio TVs, among others), and of course Apple and its “hobby,” the 3-year-old Apple TV.
Is there room for Google in the living room? Yes, I would think so. I’m a big fan of the bargain-priced Roku streaming player (which just announced that it’s adding an Ultimate Fighting Championship channel to its slate of streaming services — mixed martial arts fans, take note), but it’s still something of a niche device, as is Apple TV for that matter (I’ve got one at home myself, but I rarely use it for movies or TV shows). And while streaming Netflix and Vudu channels are appearing on more and more TVs an Blu-ray players, neither of them seek to deliver anything as ambitious as a full-on connected TV platform.
So yes, there’s room for Google — but only (in my humble opinion) if it can develop a system that’s more than a delivery platform for ads. Show us something useful with Smart TV — say, TV listings that are truly smart, or a broad platform that makes it easy for third-party providers like Netflix, Amazon and others to bring their streaming content to our TVs and set-top devices — and we might have something.
In any case, stay tuned this week to see if Google’s rumored “Smart TV” platform does, in fact, see the light of day.