Those of us old enough to remember may recall the heralding of MTV with the now-quaint music video called "Video Killed the Radio Star." Now as we approach 2011, it may well be "Internet Killed the TV Star." Net giant Google has developed a way to search and play anything from television, whenever and wherever you choose, provided you have the latest Adobe Flash Player and the Google Chrome browser. Users are now no longer constrained by inconvenient or too-late air times of the latest episodes of their favorite TV shows; they can search for and queue them up to play at any time. Google TV also brings in Internet applications from Netflix, Twitter, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora, Napster, and various photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa. Traditional TV remotes have been replaced with the Android or iPhone to control any of these apps and then some in Google TV.
According to the official web page, there are currently two ways to get Google TV. The first is to purchase a new HDTV with it already built in. Popular hardware for this is available from Sony and Logitech. The second is to connect to an HDTV you already own. Either of these options allow web surfing while watching a movie or TV episode at the same time; users can even write live commentary on their favorite shows via Twitter. Through the Netflix instant viewing feature, any number of movies can be selected to play directly on the TV screen; no more having to watch them on a desktop monitor. Beginning in 2011, the Android phone will also make its plethora of apps available to use with Google TV, and interested web visitors are encouraged to check the Google TV site regularly for news on this release date. The new Android integration will allow control by voice and transmitting of web content seamlessly to the television screen.
When first powering up an HDTV with Google TV, the home screen appears just as with accessing any Internet browser. It holds all of the apps and content in one place; users have control of searching any TV content with either their smart phone or with an included keypad that comes with the TV set. Favorite channels and shows can be bookmarked, and existing blu-ray disc players are also being incorporated into the new Google TV technology.
Reactions to Google TV have been mixed since its debut in May of 2010. Some technology professionals feel that it could have been developed further and that its features seem thrown together with little relation to one another. In marketing terms, this is known as product fragmentation or differentiation. Major television networks such as ABC have so far blocked access to their programming by Google TV, indicating that they are also concerned that this level of product differentiation may cut into their traditional viewership enough to be a concern. This reception of Google TV indicates that as with any new and innovative technology, there are still several kinks to be ironed out before it will work completely seamlessly for a mass audience.
On the upside, Google TV coupled with the Android operating system marks a sign of things to come. Some TV viewers no longer have the patience for the wait times and increasingly pervasive television commercial bombardment. It seems to matter less that this is the way TV has always been viewed; now there is more control for the viewer, which seems to be one of Google TV's major positives and selling points so far. Technophiles are already watching this and other innovations to come for interactive television technology.