Because Google hasn't extended its reach into enough areas of our lives, the company is now testing its TV search in various capacities. Looking to leverage its Android operating system and search technologies in set-top boxes and other television devices, TV search allows users to look for both online and broadcast content. Although the technology still has some maturing to do, it certainly points to the increasing convergence of the various screens through which we view content.
According to the Wall Street Journal,
Previous efforts to access Internet programming on TV sets have failed to catch on, partly because they required consumers to purchase extra hardware. By working directly with an operator like Dish and its hardware, Google could avoid the such issues. Unlike earlier efforts, Google's service isn't just about accessing Web content. It is also a search service that is integrated with the operator's programming.
So is this a good thing? Given how much time young people especially spend watching videos on YouTube and Hulu (whether through syndication deals or as original content), it makes sense that this sort of web-based content should be available on the screen of their choosing. Android-based smartphone? You got it. Web browser? Done. TV? You bet. My kids will watch YouTube videos on the Wii if they want to look at something bigger than a laptop; a computer will be going into our entertainment center soon to make online content more accessible and stream HD content from Netflix and the Web. If anyone would like to shove this all in one box and bundle it with service, feel free.
Of course, now Google can target ads based on your television-viewing habits and embed ads in both web and TV content. However, with the advent of TiVo and the death of commercials, it was only a matter of time before advertisers found ways to sell ads through which you couldn't fast forward. Although this represents one more big muddy splash of my digital footprint, I have to say that I'd much prefer to type in a query and get search results in familiar Google form (with both web and satellite content integrated) than make my way through 200 channels of DirecTV programming guide. As with most things Google, this will probably end up being so convenient, we won't sweat it. Google already knows that you searched for the times that Mork and Mindy was being repeated on Nick at Night this afternoon anyway. You'll be seeing ads for rainbow suspenders in your Gmail tomorrow.
This technology is still struggling to emerge and the promises of convergence echoing from the last decade haven't been fully realized. However, with the merging of Moblin and Maemo, the increasing integration of Google's search and media services with traditional media, and the explosion of the smartphone market, this may finally be the decade when the lines between traditional and new media don't just blur. I have a feeling they're going to disappear entirely.