Analysts taking a gimlet-eyed view of Google TV call the service promising, but are curbing their enthusiasm because the high-tech graveyard is loaded with failed Web TV services from Microsoft's WebTV in 1996 to Intel's Viiv entertainment platform. Google TV marries Web surfing and channel surfing on an Android 2.1-based platform with a Chrome browser on Web-connected televisions and Blu-ray players from Sony and set-top boxes from Logitech. Gartner analyst Van Baker and Envisioneering Group's Richard Doherty discuss the service in detail.
Industry analysts are calling Google TV promising, but are guarded in their
enthusiasm because the Internet-television graveyard is loaded with services
from Microsoft's WebTV in 1996 to Intel's Viiv entertainment platform a decade
Announced May 20 at Google I/O, Google TV marries
Web surfing and channel surfing, much
like existing services such as Apple TV, TiVo, Boxee, Roku and Vudu.
The Google Android 2.1-based platform will place a Chrome browser on
Web-connected televisions and Blu-ray players, initially from Sony and set-top
boxes from Logitech.
TV buffs will call up a drag-down search box to flit from channel to
channel, even searching for information about a program, including comments
from Twitter or ESPN.com while they watch in the lower right-and corner of
their screen-the ultimate multitasking0020feature.
Unlike Apple's iPhone and iPad, Google TV supports Adobe Flash 10.1, so
users will also search for and use Internet applications from video Websites
such as NetFlix, YouTube and Amazon video-on-demand to Google Picasa, Yahoo
Flickr, Pandora and gaming Websites without fear of being locked out of any
TV viewers will navigate among channels and applications with a special
remote control from Logitech, or from their Android 2.1 or higher phones. Intel
Atom chips power the Sony and Logitech hardware. Google's Android team will
also upgrade its SDK to allow developers to write apps for the service, albeit
after the service launches.
The service has been optimized for the Dish Network satellite TV service,
but should work with all providers when Best Buy begins selling the components
this fall. Engadget has the ultimate Google TV primer here
Gartner analyst Van Baker, who was initially skeptical about Google TV in
comments made to eWEEK in March
, said the service looks promising but that a lot
depends on execution.
Baker likes the open and ease of integration of Google TV, as TV service
providers can embed the Google TV code in their set-top boxes; TV makers can inject
the code directly into the boxes they build; and consumers can buy Google
TV-enabled set-top boxes.
"There's no way anyone can prevent this from being deployed because
even if service providers like Comcast or DirectTV don't like the idea, there's
nothing they can do about it because the software takes the HDMI out feed from
the set-top box and Androids it into this bigger environment and presents that
to the consumer," Baker said.
But Baker also cautioned that Google TV may be confusing at first to
consumers because it marries personal content from Websites that users log into
with television service content and makes it a searchable database.
"If I go do a search for 'Lost,' I'm going to get everything related to
that. If what I want to do is watch programming, I'm going to have to wade
through some stuff to find out which ones are programs and which ones are
YouTube videos and which ones just mention those."