After months of speculation, Google Thursday unveiled Google TV, described as a way to meld surfing the Internet with channel surfing.
At the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco this week, the company announced that it's working with Intel, Sony, and Logitech to develop Google TV as an open platform. TV-maker Sony hasn't released pricing plans for the so-called smart televisions, which could go on sale as early as this fall.
In what officials called a true team effort, Intel will supply microprocessors for the Sony-built televisions, while Google provides its Android operating system, Chrome Web browser and other tools. Logitech is building a special remote control, along with a wireless keyboard for the system. Third parties can add other applications to the system.
Google officials said the offering aims to offer TV watchers the search capabilities and video options of the Web they see on the Web.
"It's about making your TV more than just TV," said a Google spokesman.
At the demo in today's conference keynote, Google compared a basic TV channel guide a smart TV.
Using Google's well-known search capabilities, the Google TV system is designed to let users search for when their favorite show will be on next or when a Red Sox game will be airing. Once the search findings come up, users will be able to click on an upcoming airing and automatically set it to be recorded to the DVR.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, says the Google TV features are good ideas that have been a long time coming.
"In the right format and with the right usage model and customer experience, people could adopt this," added Enderle. "Folks probably won't be doing much browsing on their TV. But consuming Internet media? Certainly. Up until now it has been too difficult for most to do that. Google is moving to change that."
Enderle said Google TV could prove to be a big money maker for the company.
"It's the first step to displacing the network affiliates and cable companies as controlling entities," he said. "While Google won't get all of the related revenue, they'll likely get enough of it. To do this well, they will need to focus, demonstrate very high quality, and not piss off governments so their goal becomes unachievable."