After a keynote speech to the IFA consumer electronics trade fair in Berlin, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told journalists that Google is looking to launch a free TV service which will allow full Internet browsing via your television. “We will work with content providers, but it is very unlikely that we will get into actual content production,” said Schmidt.
If you recall, Apple just launched a $99 version of their Apple TV product with 99 cent rentals and full Netflix integration. It looks like Google wants to avoid creating their own device entirely and just embed the right software directly into your television. It looks like the cat is officially out of the bag as Samsung has also said today that they are looking to integrate Android software into their TV’s. “We will have to see, but we are reviewing,” said head of Samsung’s TV business Yoon Boo Keun.
Sony, exclusive HDTV partner with Google, has already integrated Android into at least one model. In May, they unveiled a prototype of a TV set that will deliver video and music over the Internet. It should be on shelves just in time for the holidays and the exclusive partnership means that Samsung may have to wait until next year. At that time, Google TV source code will be released with support for the Android Market. LG has also thrown their hat into the ring by licensing Plex and planning to offer their own version of Google TV.
This looks like a sneak attack by Google on the TV market. Everyone seems intent on developing yet another box that you have to buy, connect to your TV, and pay for service on. Google’s approach is more direct and to the point: get rid of all the extra boxes and play video and music directly from the Internet. Did you catch the part where the service will be free?
With direct access to the Internet, the possibilities are endless: Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and whichever niche video site tickles your fancy will all be at your fingertips. Google is branching out all over the place looking for new revenue streams. Even as they battle with Apple in the mobile and now entertainment markets, the TV makers themselves will be going at it to see who can create the best “smart” TV. Not only will this be a win for the consumer, but it looks like Netflix is going to make out like a bandit.