Google Wants Your TV

That set-top box from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is getting closer to your living room.

The New York Times is reporting that Google has teamed up with an all-star constellation that includes Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) , Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , and Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI  ) to bring a fully Web-enabled and Android-powered box to consumers. The newspaper's anonymous sources claim that this project has been brewing "for several months," and that this is the technology that DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH  ) is helping Google test right now.

"The partners envision technology that will make it as easy for TV users to navigate Web applications, like the Twitter social network and the Picasa photo site, as it is to change the channel," the article says. The platform can be worked into set-top boxes or directly into TV sets, and Logitech's custom remote control will probably include a full QWERTY keyboard for seamless searching and browsing. I would also expect that gadget to work like a Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) Wii controller, which lets you navigate on-screen environments by pointing the remote at the screen.

This four-way partnership breaks new ground in many ways. Sony hopes to steal a march on its rivals in consumer electronics by being first to market with hyper-connected media players and TV sets -- though heavyweight rivals like Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) , Toshiba, and Samsung are part of Android's Open Handset Alliance and could be working on their own Android applications for the living room as we speak. Intel hopes to push its Atom chips into new markets, and Logitech is simply firing slapshots from its wheelhouse at the blue line, doing what the company already does best.

Google has a two-pronged objective: Expand Web surfing into the living room with the commensurate extra ad clicks, and provide a natural platform on which to build a mechanism that serves personalized TV ads based on your browsing history. Some might call that an evil invasion of your privacy, but I call it smart business and the obvious way forward for Google and for an advertising industry that seems short on real innovation.

So there you have it, folks: A Google TV box or Google-powered TV set is coming to a Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) near you. We don't know exactly when, though the Times believes that "products based on the [Android TV] software could appear as soon as this summer."

We're standing at a cusp of a new era in entertainment and information history. Will the sea change be good or bad for consumers and investors? Discuss in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Best Buy and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Best Buy is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Logitech is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool has created a covered strangle position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a buy calls position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a write covered calls position on Logitech. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy and Logitech International SA. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2010, at 10:50 AM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    Heh, I love that this comes right on the heels of the recent "Google is riskier than you think" article. Good stuff!

    I said there and maintain here that Google is one of the most rock-solid investments you could make. It's hard to believe a $560 share price isn't overvalued, but news like this backs it up. Google is positioning itself as the spider at the center of the world wide web, insinuating itself into every new platform, even when it has to invent the platform itself.

    Just wait til you see what they do with alternative energy - when we make the switch from centralized to distributed smart-grid energy solutions, guess who is going to be at the center of it?

    I'm very, very long on Google.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2010, at 1:51 PM, TMFStockSpam wrote:

    bombs. Picasa isn't even in the running for top photo sites (it's facebook, despite the lame quality). Internet video looks like absolute garbage on any screen larger than 6 inches.

    Moreover, the internet video server infrastructure simply isn't capable of reliably delivering good video streams via IP. My cable internet is lightning fast, but video from netflix is still spotty and subject to all kinds of delays and re-boots.

    Finally, there are only so many input plugs on the back of a TV. Given that one set is usually dedicated to the video game console and the other to the set-top service box, Google needs to replace one of these. I hardly think that's likely. Xbox already provides much of what Google is trying to capitalize on, but also plays games, works as a media hub for the home network, etc. and so on. Other game machines are similar.

    Sj

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2010, at 2:25 PM, Borbality wrote:

    TMFStockSpam, but isn't Google working on its Google Fiber thing right now? Sounds like before long we'll all be hooked real fast for real.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2010, at 3:12 PM, drborst wrote:

    ... And isn't Cisco working on a new router that will let someone download the entire library of congress in a few minutes?

    And isn't Intel working on a fiber optic connector to replace every other connector on the box?

    Every time a tech company reads something that could be be interpreted as an app that doesn't work fast enough, they salivate.

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