Google has joined forces with Intel and Sony to build a television set-top box based on its Android mobile operating system and Chrome web browser.
The New York Times reports that this "Google TV" contraption - in development for several months - is designed to make it easier for television watchers to use web applications on their boob tubes, including things like Google's own Picasa photo manager, its YouTube video-sharing site, and, yes, Twitter. According to The Times' sources, Google intends to provide a software development kit for the platform in the next two months, with product arriving as soon as the summer.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal earlier in the month, Google is testing a set-top box in tandem with satellite TV provider Dish Network that seeks to provide a single interface for searching television programming and video websites such as YouTube. And this could be the same project. The Times report says Google TV is now part of a limited test with Dish.
The Mountain View Chocolate Factory has long offered a Google TV Ads program that lets marketing types use their online AdWords accounts to serve ads onto cable and satellite televisions channels. And the company has been known to say that its internet know-how can save the future of television, showing slow-witted traditional TV businesses how to cope with things likes DVRs and an increasingly fragmented audience. "A lot of the recipes and lessons that work on the web can actually apply to TV," Google head of TV technology Vincent Dureau told a Silicon Valley audience in the sumer of 2007.
"You can actually make more money, because you can increase the relevancy of your ads," he said. "You can cut down on the number of ads - and still reach more people. At the end of the day, you're changing the attitude of the consumer. They've reached a point where they expect the ad to be relevant and they're more likely to watch it."
According to one source speaking with The Times, the Google TV project is, yes, all about the ads. "Google wants to be everywhere the Internet is so they can put ads there," the source says.
The Wall Street Journal's Dish Network report indicated that Google would enter the set-top box market through a television provider. It's unclear whether "Google TV" will end up as a Google-branded device, but the Times report says that although it's been prototyped as a set-top, it may be incorporated into TVs or other devices.
In addition to partnering with Sony and Intel on the project, Google has apparently tapped LogiTech to build a remote with a very small keyboard built in. The device runs Android on an Intel Atom chip, The Times says, and it uses a Chrome browser - which isn't publicly available on Android at the moment. ®