Google Satellite TV Search to Be Fueled by Android

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-03-15

Google and the Dish Network are implementing Google's Web search experience via a Google Android set-top box, through which users' search queries bring back both TV content and YouTube video content, an IDC analyst told eWEEK.

The Wall Street Journal said Google is testing its search software on TV set-top boxes, which as one of the modern replacements for the cable box enable content to be transmitted from the Internet. Google is testing this search service with a "very small number of the company's employees and their families," the Journal said.

IDC analyst Hadley Reynolds told eWEEK the test with Dish runs only on Android-powered set-top boxes, "and you can use a keyboard, not just a remote, to issue queries."

Reynolds noted that while such a blend of TV and Web video content will become standard in the industry within five years, Google will not be able to graft the standard Web search experience onto the video world. Reynolds argued:

"Searchers will need a much more visual environment that is tuned to discovery-that is, the user will need to be presented with categories (e.g. sports, drama, news, etc.) and then with rich visual representation of results, like little clips of shows, perhaps, or at least an image that represents visually what the video will be about. Good metadata annotation of video objects will be the key to the success of the search experience, since the text around video content description can be sparse at best."

Reynolds said unlike with text search, in which users click links to reach pages and read them, no one wants to click to videos and have to watch a few minutes to see if what's been found is "the one."

Richard Doherty, research director for the Envisioneering Group, told eWEEK he believes Google has at least three strategies for melding the TV with the Web.

First, Doherty said, he imagines a special TV and set-top box version of Android. Second, he sees the Google Chrome Web browser running on smart networked TVs and Tru2way boxes. Finally, Google will serve YouTube videos with embedded ad links.

If Google can get search and YouTube running on TVs well enough, there's good reason to believe Google could extend this approach to the rest of its Google Apps. Users could even log into their Google Accounts through the TV remote or keyboard and access Gmail and other Web services through their televisions.

Imagine posting to Google Buzz on a 52-inch plasma or LCD screen. The TV would appear to become another computer in the home.

A spokesperson for Dish declined to comment. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK the company wouldn't comment on rumors or speculation. However, he confirmed that Google is still keen on the value of targeting the television market with Web-based advertising.

Indeed, Google in 2007 struck a deal with Dish's parent company EchoStar over automated TV ads on Dish Network's national satellite programming network.

Google also offers YouTube XL, a version of the video-sharing site optimized for TVs, and encourages video game console manufacturers and set-top box makers to use Google APIs to serve YouTube on TVs.

Getting Google search on TVs, then, may seem like a foregone conclusion at this point, and one of much interest for those keen on the convergence of the Internet with television.

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