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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 20, 2010

What to Expect from Google TV

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines

The blogosphere is anxiously awaiting the arrival of news about the rumored Google (News - Alert) TV. In the meantime, there's a lot of speculation about what it will look like, and what it will bring to the table both for Google and for consumers.

According to a CNET report, the rumored Google TV will be an entrée through which the search giant will be able to garner information on viewers' habits relative to the TV, and sell ads based on that. The same piece also notes it could help unlock the priority set-top boxes and related services on which many of us today rely.

However, a different post, this one on Motorola's (News - Alert) Web site, says the CNET  post "is missing some critical context." It says that Google TV wouldn't work with existing cable TV service, and if it did, Google would have to cut deals with cablecos and telco TV outfits.

The author of the Motorola post, freelance writer Mari Silbey, goes on to blog: "Google could certainly make an impact, but not at the level envisioned in the CNET post. Also, without working directly with cable and telco companies to use their networks, Google will be reliant on Internet transmission of any content. That's workable up to a point, but the approach doesn't scale well given today's home broadband connections and local network traffic loads. And that doesn't even get into caps on home broadband usage."

The piece on the site of Motorola, which last year was mulling selling off its set-top box unit but  this year decided against selling off its home and networks mobility division in light of lower-than-expected bids for the business, went on to say that Google could conceivability opt to partner with cableco or telco TV companies to meet its TV aspirations.

Of course, all this comes following the Federal Communications Commission's work to define the nation's agenda for broadband services, including how the set-top box ties in to the picture. As I wrote in a Nov. 19 blog for the Broadband Stimulus Advisor, the FCC (News - Alert) has for the past several months been talking about what it calls a TV set-top box "innovation gap" that it says hinders convergence, utilization and adoption. The FCC's aim is to open up the set-top box to create an environment through which a variety of services from multiple sources, including the TV and Internet worlds, can be delivered.

At the same time, you have Apple (News - Alert) in the market selling its iPads like hotcakes, and home theater integration companies using products from outfits like Savant selling Apple-based control and automation solutions. And you have end users, like me, who have been enjoying Apple TV to get video-on-demand and limited Internet access for years.

Edited by Patrick Barnard