Google unveils 'smart TV' plan

1:17 PM PST 05/20/2010 by Paul Bond, AP

VIDEO: Tech giant eyes a new chunk of the ad market

 
The world's top search engine on Thursday showed off its Google TV, an effort to meld the Internet with television so that viewers can search for, and play back, a World Wide Web's worth of content on their TV screens.

The company has teamed with Intel and Sony to create Google TV, which is an attempt to excel in an area where the likes of AOL, Microsoft, Apple and others have largely stumbled.

During a news conference in San Francisco and a Webcast over its own YouTube site, executives showed how users could watch TV while simultaneously typing in a search request, results of which show traditional TV listings along with Internet video. Streaming movies from Netflix and Amazon.com also are included.

The search results on Google TV will include the same advertising that one would get if using Google on a computer. Google also could be angling at eventually competing for a piece of the traditional television ad market, which Google product manager Rishi Chandra said is worth $70 billion a year in the U.S.

Sony said it is building Internet TVs with Google TV embedded in them for launch in the U.S. in time for the holiday gift-giving season. But a new TV set isn't necessary, because Sony also is making Blu-ray players for turning existing sets into a Google TV.

Likewise, Logitech is making a Google TV set-top box and remote control that will work with the 60 million HDTVs already in U.S. homes.

Dish Network said it will integrate Google TV into its satellite TV service so that content stored on its customers' DVRs also will be included in searches.

So far, Best Buy is the only retailer to announce it will sell all the various services and devices in support of Google TV, which runs on Google's Android software.

At Thursday's event, Google CEO Eric Schmidt acknowledged that previous Internet-television hybrid efforts haven't been embraced by consumers. Indeed, Google's own demonstration didn't work too well until after many of the 5,000 audience members complied with a request to shut off their smart phones, freeing up needed bandwidth.

"It's much harder to marry a 50-year-old technology and a brand new technology than those of us in the brand new technology industry thought," Schmidt said.
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