Maybe not your next television, but certainly one heck of a DVR or set-top box. Sean Portnoy over at ZDNet Home Theater already covered the entertainment possibilities of this partnership described in a number of outlets Wednesday. Anything to improve upon what Sean calls the "program guide and on-demand movie" model for our set-top boxes is a good thing. What interests me more, though, is what this partnership portends for the future.
Google obviously has a lot to gain by extending its reach beyond the web and mobile applications. After all, it has to figure out how to monetize YouTube and get its targeted ads in front of as many eyes as possible. As DVRs kill the value of commercials, Google's targeted ads suddenly become very attractive to advertisers, especially if those ads can be wrapped into what is essentially an Android-based DVR where programs and recordings are all searchable (and therefore targetable with ads).
Netbooks aren't forever. Intel, therefore, had better figure out some way to leverage its investment in the Atom platform, particularly as many phones and tablets turn to ARM processors. A single or dual-core Atom paired with a solid graphics card suddenly starts sounding like a great, silent, passively-cooled DVR on steroids.
While Sony has less to gain directly, the 3 big names (along with Logitech) lend a lot of credibility to Jason Perlow's idea of "The Screen." Who needs a desktop when you can access all of your cloud-based apps and multi-task watching Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and cable content on a 42" LCD? Who needs a laptop when your smartphone gives you all the communication and connectivity you need? Who needs an e-reader when that same smartphone displays EPUBs so nicely? (Let's not forget the partnership that brought Google's countless free scanned books to Sony's Reader.) Who needs an iPod dock when all of your music is also stored in this entertainment hub and accessible in your home, on your smartphone, or on your terminal at work, since the technology to share your home media collection (sitting in an Atom/Android-powered, Sony-branded set-top box in your living room) over the Internet is so mature?
This makes Apple's AppleTV device look downright silly, although the larger iMacs are already converging on this sort of entertainment hub ideal. We'll see who gets there first, but Google and Intel not only have the cash to make this work, but some very serious motivation to be sitting in your living room when you and your family are choosing between a new TV and a new PC. If you can't tell the difference anymore, these three companies win big time.