GoogleTV: We Interrupt This Broadcast

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Google is a household name. Its revenue last year was somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 billion. Its assets are nearly twice that. And everyone knows Google stock is top-tier.What do they do with all that money? As an innovative tech company, Google does what any innovative tech company would do – they expand. And when they expand, they do a pretty good job.

Just look at Google Chrome’s meteoric rise to become one of the three big PC web browsers. It took Google less than a year to achieve what Internet Explorer and Firefox spent a decade trying to get right.

Then there’s Android, Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, Chromebooks, Picasa, and more and more and more. Each one of these is just one more massive weapon in the Google arsenal. So, can a company that seemingly does no wrong, ever do wrong?

Google TV answers that question with a thunderous, resounding YES.

Google TV is a Smart TV platform that Google has been developing for several years. Basically, Google TV is your Android phone with better TV capabilities. It’s an Android operating system that allows developers to create applications for your television. But because Google TV is only software, Google has had to rely on other companies to step up and provide the hardware.

When Google TV was first announced, companies were clamoring to be the hardware destination for this revolutionary new technology. The thing is, Google TV wasn’t that revolutionary. It allows consumers to access Netflix, HBO, Amazon Video-on-demand, and existing Internet TV; nothing new there. And because most new LED or OLED televisions come with Wi-Fi connectivity and their own apps, Google TV hasn’t made waves with their offering of apps either.

In fact, many of those first-in-line hardware developers have tried to distance themselves from Google TV. Logitech, for instance, has discontinued the Revue – the company’s Google TV box. Before it was discontinued, however, Logitech was forced to dramatically slash prices and take a huge financial hit. In the first financial quarter of 2011, Logitech reported that there were more distributor and retail returns than revenue units sold, and Logitech isn’t alone. Sony has been forced to lower prices on their Google TV-fueled HDTVs.

Here’s the catch: Google TV could be amazing. Really, the potential is there for Google TV to become the dominant method of entertainment today.

Google TV syncs up with your Android smart phone, so not only can you use your phone as the controller, but you can also load something – like a webpage or video – on your phone and beam it straight to your TV. Or you can just use Google TV’s proprietary – and awesome – miniaturized QWERTY keyboard.
Google TV also allows users to view material in several separate panes. And it doesn’t have to be the same kind of content. For example, you can read the news online or browse the internet in one panel while you have a movie playing at the same time. Google TV also supports Flash in its entirety (take that, Apple). This means users can enjoy Flash-based games and a complete web experience on their televisions.

The thing is, Google TV doesn’t focus on these features. They keep pushing the same old Netflix and internet TV as everyone else. They need to highlight features such as real-time, close-caption translating with Google Translate. Or Google TV’s brand new partnering with OnLive – cloud-based gaming that rivals every modern video game console. Or the Qello app – which essentially gives users the opportunity to view live concerts from the comfort of their own home.
These are the things Google TV needs to focus on if it wants to be successful. These are the ways it will live up to its potential – expanding what television has to offer, not offering the same old television we’re used to.

Author Bio: SeanTR is a techie obsessed with the impact of technological innovation on our future. When he’s not fiddling with the latest gadget he’s probably contributing to ATTSavings. Learn more about him @SeanTR on Twitter.

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