Google's over-the-weekend acquisition of SageTV, a company focused on "place-shifting" technology for TV programming, has revived the chatter around the next version of Google TV, which hasn't really taken off with consumers since its rollout last fall.
Not only did the Logitech Revue, one of the first Google TV products released, come with a full-size keyboard for navigating the interface - an immediate cyanide pill, as far as I'm concerned - it also fell short when some content providers blocked its access to their programming.
There was some initial speculation that Google might be trying to get into the DVR space with this acquisition - but that makes no sense, seeing how DVRs are largely devices with big hard drives for storing video and the only place where Google seems to want you to store your data is in the cloud. Google hasn't said what it plans to do with SageTV and SageTV's announcement of the acquisition was also vague. It read, in part:
Since 2002, we’ve worked to change the TV viewing experience by building cutting-edge software and technology that allows you to create and control your media center from multiple devices. And as the media landscape continues to evolve, we think it’s time our vision of entertainment management grows as well. By teaming up with Google, we believe our ideas will reach an even larger audience of users worldwide on many different products, platforms and services.
It's anyone's guess what Google will do with a technology that is working to give users control over their own content and allow them to watch it from multiple devices and/or platforms.
But I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that this could be Google's push into personal video clouds, an "entertainment management" system that would allow users to presumably access a list of their favorite shows or online videos and not only access them from phones or tablets, but also wirelessly stream them to any Internet-connected display.
(Remember: the other rollout Google TV offering came as embedded technology in a Sony Internet TV, though it also came with a keyboard - just not a full-size one.)
Google has already said it wants to merge Web video and TV programming into one big searchable index to give viewers access to all of the content out there so my speculation about focusing on the "entertainment management" shouldn't be too far-fetched. Personally, I'd welcome a Google TV service that would allow me to manage my catalog of favorites through a Web interface and then access them from a smartphone, tablet, living room display or even a hotel room TV.
If I'm dreaming, I might as well go big, right? Still, this seems to be the path that the industry is heading down.
Apple's updated AirPlay service allows users to mirror their iPad displays to their Apple TV-connected screens, which means that the iCloud content that can be accessed by computer, iPhone and iPad can now reach the TV, too.
I'm also intrigued by what Fanhattan is doing with its iPad app, allowing users to search for content anywhere and then watch it on the device. That "search everywhere" capability is what Google has been playing up.
Last fall's Google TV product may not have been perfect out of the gate, but Google is working to make it better and better with every version, just as it has continued to do with Android, GMail, search and more.
- Google TV 2.0 in the works. Keep the concept, dump that keyboard
- Google TV will revolutionize television once viewers understand it.
- Google TV: Back to the drawing board may be best bet.