Will Google TV bring our screens together at last?

“Ever since the Internet became ubiquitous, it has seemed inevitable that the PC and the TV would one day get together and live happily ever after. The advent of broadband and HDTV’s made that seem even more likely a few years ago. However, TV and PC have so far been like those two friends who seem to have so much in common. You feel like if you could just get them together, they would definitely hit it off, but any time you’ve gotten them in the same room, the chemistry just hasn’t been there. Think back on efforts like WebTV (which is actually still around, sort of) and media center PC’s. Even as wireless networks have brought our laptops and TV’s within just a few feet of each other, they have generally remained as ships passing in the night.

Google TV is promising to change all of that. Utilizing Google’s Android operating system, Google TV is basically an interface that brings all the content available on your TV and all the content available on your PC together into a pretty slick looking package. A search bar allows you to Google TV listings and web content in one universal search (at launch, Dish Network subscribers will even be able to search content on select DVR’s). You can browse the web for scores while you watch sports, look up recipes while you watch the food network, check out an actor’s IMDB page while you watch that episode of Law and Order, and, well I could go on for a while. Of course, you can also access media services like NetFlix, Amazon Video and Pandora. Add in the fact that Android’s open source nature allows pretty much anyone to create Apps for Google TV, and a technophile like me enters a world of pure imagination.
Now for the bad news. Google TV is only available on a standalone box called the Logitech Revue that retails for a whopping $300 or a yet to be released HDTV from Sony that will come with it as a baked-in feature. Much like the fat kid that drank from the chocolate river, I will not be getting my chocolate factory – at least not right away. I expect Google TV to become available on a host of other devices (PS3 perhaps) at a much lower cost of entry in the coming months. That will ultimately be the key to it catching on.

The convergence of these two screens would open up a whole passel of new marketing channels. Traditional online display advertising is one obvious application, but once people start “”looking things up”” on their TV’s, things like search ads and other highly targeted marketing messages could be just around the corner. As Marshall McLuhan put it, the medium is the message. When people begin to use their TV’s differently, the content and marketing that make it to the screen will inevitably evolve.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think my laptop is making eyes at my plasma.”

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