Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Google TV is on track for a fall release, offering a digital TV platform geared to rival Apple TV.
Google TV is an ambitious effort to let users turn their televisions into computers. The service, based on Google’s Android operating system, will let users navigate between channels, Websites and Web applications through Google’s Chrome Web browser.
Schmidt, speaking at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin Sept. 7, said the service will soak up consumers’ time in the evening. He also said the service will launch worldwide in 2011.
Google TV will call up both free and paid Web video, including pay-per-view from DISH Cinema, said Google TV Product Marketing Manager Brittany Bohnet during the demo at IFA. She added that a Google TV SDK will be available for Android Market in early 2011, reaffirming what Google said in May.
Google TV will go head-to-head with the new Apple TV the computer maker launched Sept. 1. Apple is now offering a hockey puck of a device for $99. The device sports an HDMI connector, Ethernet and WiFi, optical audio, and USB plugs.
The new Apple TV offers high-definition movie rentals for $4.99 and a TV rental option for 99 cents a show. The popular Netflix streaming service is baked in, as is integration with YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.
While Apple TV aims to replace the DVD players, Google TV wants to subsume, Altimeter Group analyst Michael Gartenberg told eWEEK.
In related Android TV news, an executive for Samsung told Bloomberg the consumer electronics maker may make TV sets powered by Google TV.
“We will have to see, but we are reviewing,” said Yoon Boo Keun, head of Samsung’s TV business, when asked whether the company will use Android in some sets.
This is somewhat surprising because Google TV competes with Samsung’s own Web TV platform. Currently, about half of Samsung’s 3D TVs offer Web browsing functionality, which means these sets would compete with sets offering Google TV inside.
Samsung’s position also comes despite the high cost reportedly associated with components to power Google TV. Google TV is estimated to add a $300 premium to the price of TVs and other devices that use the OS, GigaOm said.