Google, Intel, and Sony are reportedly banding together to produce a web content platform for your living room called Google TV. The new platform would reportedly be available as a set-top box or as part of a web-capable television. Google TV would be based on Google's mobile operating system, Android, and would also include a version of the Chrome browser for using Web applications like Twitter or Picasa, Google's online photo sharing and storage service, according to The New York Times.
The whole idea behind Google TV, the Times reports, is to create smartphone-like applications that make using the web on your television as easy as changing the channel. Google hopes to encourage third party developers to create apps for Google TV with the same enthusiasm they have for creating Android smartphone apps. In the coming months, Google will provide an application development toolkit for Google TV, and the Times says we could see Google TV-related products as early as this summer. It's not clear how these apps will be distributed, but presumably, Google will offer some kind of online marketplace as it does for Android smartphones.
Device supremacy in the living room is something of a Holy Grail for technology companies. There are many set-top boxes on the market today that can stream online video from YouTube, rent premium video content, and browse the web, such as the three major gaming consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii), TiVo digital video recorders, Apple TV, and the Roku set-top box. However, none of these products have been able to gain a significant enough user base to be declared the preferred living room device where you can view your online and physical content, such as DVDs, in one place. Will Google be able to fare better than its competitors, and dominate the living room with Google TV devices? Perhaps, but here's what I'm wondering about Google TV.
Is Google TV really a platform or a product?
Since Google is partnering with Sony, I can only assume that the first Google TV set-top boxes and televisions will be coming from Sony. But it's not very Google-like to be tied down to one manufacturer. So how long will it take before other companies can put Google TV-capability in their products? Will Google TV be an exclusive feature for Sony products, or will we also see Google TV-capability from other big manufacturers like LG, Samsung and Panasonic?