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Television 2.0: A Closer Look at Google TV

Google TV's eye-catching logo.
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Above: Google TV's eye-catching logo.

Television is about to be upgraded.

As the holiday shopping season begins, the world of entertainment technology is buzzing about Sony’s Google TV. San Diego-headquartered Sony Electronics debuted the latest internet-enabled device at their Sony Style location in Fashion Valley to an eager crowd.

The event was promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare social networks. Google TV enables people to watch their favorite programs in high definition and surf the web all in one device. Now you can check your fantasy football league and not miss any of the action of the live game, instant message your friends during Glee, or share your favorite YouTube clip on the big screen in HD.

All of this multi-media magic is made possible by the Google TV platform, which uses a version of the Android operating system and the Google Chrome internet browser. Sony incorporated this technology into their new HD TVs and Blu-ray player. It’s also available on the Logitech Revue device.

The player and Revue allow other TVs to enjoy Google TV. While Google TV doesn’t record, it works with your cable box DVR. At the touch of a button you can search your favorite shows and Google TV will find it on TV or the internet.

You can customize your Google TV experience by adding your favorite TV apps much like you can on a smartphone. One forthcoming app enables your Android-based smartphone to act as remote control. Until then, the Google TV remote will have to do.

The remote seems to be the merging of a PlayStation controller and a QWERTY keypad. It takes some getting used to if you’re not familiar with texting, and the optical mouse could be more precise. The picture quality is excellent, however, and Google TV is designed to upscale YouTube videos.

This is a big increase in entertainment access not only for viewers, but creators as well.

“Today is a perfect time to be an artist because there are so many avenues to have your message heard,” says Independent producer/director Jason Lim.

Due to advances in technology and the internet, it has become easier to create high-quality content that can be seen by a large audience. Popular comedy web series "The Guild" started as a self-produced TV pilot that found a huge audience on YouTube. The show has won several awards and is now in its 4th season.

While television and internet viewers may be happy about Google TV, the major networks are not. ABC, CBS, and NBC are blocking their internet programming from Google TV – strange, since you can still watch those programs from your computer.

The networks are concerned Google TV threatens their existing broadcast TV business model and have chosen to limit access until an informed decision can be made. Technologist and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has given his solution by leveraging NetFlix and its web-streaming success.

While Google TV may be seen as a threat by the networks, it’s definitely an opportunity for Google. As the world’s largest internet search engine, Google continues to grow. In a recent CNN article, Google is estimated to comprise 6.4% of all global internet traffic. A large part of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. By increasing access to the internet, Google Ads will connect with more people.

And connecting with people is what social media is all about. Google TV comes pre-loaded with Twitter and several other apps with more on the way. Some of the first websites people tried out at the debut were Facebook and YouTube.

"Social media has empowered consumers, and reinforces the participatory nature of media,” says Reid Carr, CEO of Red Door Interactive. “The television is a conduit to the content, and as content continues to evolve, it catalyzes change in the ways that content is consumed.”

As convergence devices like Google TV make internet access easier and connect with more people, digital culture will play a larger part in our lives. It will become increasingly important for companies, products, and people to manage their online presence and how they interact with consumers and communities.

You can test drive Google TV for yourself at Sony Style and Best Buy locations. Sony Internet TV featuring Google TV ranges from $599.99 for the 24” to $1399.99 for the 46” screen. Sony’s Internet Blu-ray player with Google TV is $399.99.

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