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Google Hatches Plot to Break Into TV

Google Hatches Plot to Break Into TV

Google, Intel, Sony and Logitech have reportedly come together to create a new device platform built for bringing the Web closer to the TV. Google TV would apparently use the Android OS to streamline the act of surfing Web content, including Web-based videos as well as social networking sites, through the television.

By Richard Adhikari
03/18/10 12:07 PM PT

Google, Intel and Sony have teamed up to develop a platform called "Google TV" that will bring about a new way to surf the Internet via televisions, according to The New York Times.

Logitech, which makes remote controls and computer devices, will reportedly develop peripherals for the platform. These will apparently include a remote with a tiny keyboard.

This follows earlier reports in The Wall Street Journal that Google is testing a TV program search function with Dish Network.

If the reports are correct, the Google platform could further open up online advertising opportunities and bring in more revenue.

The New Google Platform

This new platform is reportedly based on Android, Google's operating system that's so far appeared mostly in smartphones. It will run on Intel's Atom chip, and it's believed Sony will bring out the first devices running the platform.

It's possible the platform will use Google's Chrome browser, which may have to be modified in order to work in an Android environment.

The partners in the project reportedly want to make it easier for television watchers to navigate Web applications such as social networks, as well as streamline the act of getting programming such as Web TV shows and videos from YouTube onto users' television sets.

"A lot of large companies are trying to conquer your living room," Itzik Cohen, CEO of ClipSync, told TechNewsWorld. "There will be more Web-enabled devices connected to your TV in the future." ClipSync's software platform lets people interact with each other while watching television

Google declined to discuss the issue. "We don't comment on rumor or speculation," spokesperson Eitan Bencuya told TechNewsWorld.

That's Entertainment

The consumer electronics industry, which has been bringing out network-enabled devices for the living room over the past several years, is likely to benefit from Google's platform, said Greg Ireland, a research manager at IDC.

"The industry has been looking for something like this platform," Ireland pointed out. "We have a proliferation of network-enabled devices such as connected televisions, connected Blu-ray players and the like, and there isn't a common software platform for these devices, so companies are forced to develop their own software programs," he told TechNewsWorld. "The issue is not just to connect up to Netflix, but to create a platform that can link your TV to your smartphone and your Blu-ray player, for example."

Yahoo Widgets can tie together various media devices. Several television makers built Yahoo Widgets in their TV lines in the past couple of years, but it has had limited success. "Initially some people signed up with Yahoo Widgets," Ireland said. "Now, we've heard Samsung has moved away from Yahoo and will do something on its own. Panasonic is also coming up with something on its own."

Google's Set Top Box

Earlier this month, Google reportedly began a beta trial of TV search with Dish Network. This uses a set-top box running Android that can search through TV network programming as well as Web videos. Apparently, only a handful of Google employees are involved in the trial.

Dish Network wouldn't discuss the issue. "We don't have a comment on this," spokesperson Robin Zimmermann told TechNewsWorld.

In launching the set-top box trials, Google may aim to support its common platform. "It's not so much that Google's looking to create a box of its own as it is to offer a connected device that's part of the broader developer ecosystem," Ireland pointed out.

Once a common platform is created, it can be monetized because it will provide a set of standards developers can work to.

"You can integrate Pandora and Netflix and Amazon, but how can you innovate unless there's a common platform developers can work on?" Ireland said. "That's where Google comes in."

Google could deliver a toolkit to appdevs in the next couple of months; products based on the platform will be out around summer.

"Having the Google platform will increase the market for everyone," ClipSync's Cohen said. "And if Google's involved, ads will become part of the mix, which means everyone will be able to monetize."


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