Google, the company that seems intent on becoming a force in anything that uses electrons, said Tuesday that it expects to expand its Web TV service across the globe. CEO Eric Schmidt said at the big IFA consumer electronics show now in Berlin that he expects other TV set manufacturers to join Sony, which is scheduled to launch Web TV in the U.S. beginning this fall. Samsung has recently said it is considering releasing TV sets with the Google software.
Schmidt said that the Android-based software, which allows the Web to be viewed on a TV, is available free. "You should expect that other TV manufacturers would love to have this product," he told reporters. The U.S. launch is designed for a Sony high-definition TV, a Sony Blu-ray high-definition DVD player, and a Logitech set-top box.
Your Smartphone as Remote
A Google remote control is in the works, which is expected to include a full QWERTY keyboard, a mouse or pointing device, and a variety of TV-related buttons. But there are also plans for users to be able to use a smartphone as a remote control, such as an Android-based phone or Apple's iPhone. This means that voice-recognition commands, through the smartphone, could control your TV.
The Google software is designed to work with Intel chips in the sets, and the service will include video-on-demand from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Google-owned YouTube. YouTube is expected to offer popular feature movies on its service sometime this year, which, in conjunction with Google's TV service, means that the search giant will directly become a competitor on that front with cable systems, other online movie services, and TV networks.
However, the timeline may be delayed. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Google's talks with the major movie studios "did not go as smoothly as Google had hoped."
Web Business Model
The business model for Google's TV service appears to be a Web-based one, relying on the revenue from advertising that accompanies Web searches. Google has said there will be no charge to TV set manufacturers or to content providers.
However, the company has indicated it intends to extend its search engine on TV sets to cover TV listings, recorded programs, on-demand and pay TV, online video clips, and other programming, in addition to the Web. A viewer could, for instance, search for science fiction shows, and get results indicating the programs, showtimes, and so on. Many cable systems offer a similar search, but few employ contextual advertising.
Brittany Bohnet, a product marketing representative for Google, also said that some "thousands" of the 60,000 applications designed to work on Android-based mobile devices will also work on Google TV. In addition, she said, the company expected applications to be developed specifically for television.
In fact, Bohnet told news media, "soon, you're never going to want to buy a TV without an Internet router."