As rumored in March and earlier this week, Google is bringing the web to your television. You know, like WebTV more than a decade ago. And it didn’t take off then, either.
Google TV will be a set-top box available this fall (and integrated into a new Sony TV coming then, too), allowing us to access the Internet from our televisions (including Flash!). The previews look like really slick On-Demand:
While companies including Apple have continued to try to make Web-TV integration work, the original WebTV was purchased by Microsoft and eventually rebranded as MSN TV. They continue to support existing customers, but Microsoft finally gave up on selling the hardware last year. But Google has tapped Logitech to make some auxiliary devices, including a remote control with a mini keyboard. Isn’t it great? All the inconveniences of your other devices—the tiny keyboard on your phone, the constant distraction of the Internet and the mind-numbing power of the tube—combined into one ultimate time-wasting device. (YouTwitFace?)
Search Engine Land‘s Greg Sterling has a breakdown of some important questions—and touches on what might be the best part of the offering. While we don’t know yet know whether GTV will be subscription-based, it may be a cable killer:
This is an interesting question to consider and one that will take time to answer. Users won’t need a cable TV subscription (though they will need WiFi in the home) to access GTV. So it’s at least possible that the web content and video, Netflix and Hulu that GTV offers via the internet could well substitute for a cable subscription. But content publishers like Hulu will have the choice and ability to block Google TV if they like. This is what happened with Hulu and Boxee previously.
Most people who pay for cable today are unlikely to “unplug” because of this. But there will likely be a group of people who simply use Google TV (or other comparable tools) to get internet content, Neflix and web video in the living room, as an alternative to paying for a cable subscription.
As always, Google has a convenient video for us all:
Gary Price also provides a few links with more information.
- The Sony Internet TV site
- Designing websites for Google TV
- The Android developer site (Android powers Google TV and apps will work on it)
- The Logitech site for Google TV with some general details
What do you think? Is this Web/TV’s best chance yet, or has the concept already jumped the shark?