Web & TV. A union of words that reek of a failed marriage. Previous attempts at bringing these two behemoths together have hardly set the world on fire or in fact radically altered our television viewing habits. And why should we care when it’s easy enough to connect a home PC to your TV already? Well, the experience is likely to get a whole lot more sophisticated come the launch of Google TV later this year.
So what makes the search engine giant’s new proposition “TV meets Web. Web meets TV” more likely to succeed? Well for a start it’s breathing life into the old romance by introducing multiple partners. With heavyweights like Sony, Adobe and Intel creating the devices and hardware, the future of internet TV is beginning to look a little rosier. Operating on Android, it will incorporate Chrome and Flash 10.1 meaning just about anything will be searchable and playable. On top of this will be voice-recognition searching, video-conferencing via integrated web cams and a plethora of applications which will make TV viewing considerably more interactive.
One of the biggest advantages Google TV offers is that its architecture will be open source meaning there is potential for a whole host of other services and apps from a range of start-ups without the restrictions on licensing previously imposed by the likes of Apple. But what about content? With YouTube in its stable and a multitude of VOD services available online there is currently plenty available to view alongside conventional broadcasting. But what’s not clear is how its relationship with TV Broadcasters and Studios will develop. Will Google attempt to acquire material currently held by these providers or will it attempt to set up its own commissioning/creative content arm?
On the flip side there are of course the inevitable disadvantages in trying to merge two quite different activities. Web-surfing being all about the giving……TV viewing, receiving essentially. Switching between these two becomes an issue when seated around the box. Generally watching moving images on a TV screen requires the viewer to sit a fair distance away. What happens when searching for other content to view online, particularly as most websites are largely text-based? Could involve a fair bit of unnecessary shifting around.
Aside from Google’s official announcement in May this year, further news on the development of Google TV has not been forthcoming. How significant it will be in relation to the future of TV viewing remains to be seen but it will certainly open up a range of new possibilities and move things a few steps closer to the full cross-platform experience.