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Google TV: Just as challenged as other interactive efforts

Google, Sony and Intel are reportedly collaborating on an Android-powered effort dubbed Google TV. Are these companies whistling past the interactive TV graveyard?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Google, Sony and Intel are reportedly collaborating on an Android-powered effort dubbed Google TV. According to the New York Times, the trio of companies are working on set-top boxes and TVs that would include Google's Android and services and Intel's Atom chip. Naturally, Google services would be a remote control away.

Needless to say this latest effort to crack the interactive TV nut has garnered a lot of interest from the tech crowd.

Now time for a dose of reality:

  • It's far from clear that consumers even want interactive TV.
  • History is littered with interactive TV flops. Apple TV? Hobby at best.
  • We have a lot of what Google TV offers already. I already have Twitter and Facebook on my set-top box via Verizon FiOS. I've used both widgets exactly twice.
  • Logitech's keyboard on the couch and super remote? It's called a laptop, maybe netbook.
  • This Google TV effort has the wrong partners. It's nice that Intel will provide the chips, Android runs the software, Google is involved and Sony will embed on TVs. But I'd be more interested if Google TV was plugged into Scientific Atlanta, owned by Cisco, and Motorola. Those two companies sell the set-top boxes that get you to cable customers. The way to the living room---as proven time and again---is via the cable guys. No one wants another set-top box. Get over it.

The one wrinkle to that final point is that Motorola is a big Google/Android partner and would be open to Google TV. Motorola plans on putting MotoBlur on set-top boxes.

You really can't blame Google, Intel, Logitech and Sony for pursuing interactive TV. Someone has to keep beating this interactive TV drum to find something that may be compelling. So why not allow Google and Intel to lead the parade? Microsoft, Apple and others are already at the party. In fact, Microsoft powers my Verizon FiOS box. It's swell, but also highlights a big issue: How exactly is Android going to get to my set-top box without the carriers playing along?

Google TV's challenge is very familiar. Consumers don't dig new set-top boxes---it's just more complication and clutter. Meanwhile, the promise of interactive TV is murky at best. The beauty of TV is that it's a passive experience. Sometimes we just want to veg after interacting all day long.

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