Geek TV

Article excerpt

Byline: Daniel Lyons

Computer makers take over the tube.

For the past few years, tech companies have been trying to find a way to bring the Internet and television to-gether, without much success. Sure, there are lots of little boxes you can attach to your TV that let you download content from the Internet, including Vudu, Roku, TiVo, Boxee, and Apple TV, not to mention game consoles from Microsoft and Sony. Each one gives you a little something different. But no single box gives you the whole Internet.

Now Google is out to replace all those crazy little boxes with Google TV. The software program will come built right into some TV sets and it will basically turn your TV into a computer.

Just as the Internet has transformed the tiny mobile-phone screen you carry around in your pocket, thanks to devices like Apple's iPhone and the many Android smart phones, it may now transform that huge screen in your living room. "We've seen how the Web has transformed the mobile industry. The next device is the TV," says Rishi Chandra, a product manager at Google, in Mountain View, Calif.

If Google TV works the way the company says it will, you'll be able to turn on your set and get a home page from Google TV. You'll surf the Web (using Google's Chrome browser) and load apps onto the TV the way you do on a smart phone. You'll be able to send tweets on Twitter, and listen to music on Pandora. You could view any content stored on computers on your home network--your photo album, for example--and download movies from Amazon and Netflix. You could set bookmarks for your favorite channels, favorite apps, favorite Web sites. And you can use your smart phone as a remote control.

Just as with Android for mobile phones, Google makes Google TV code available to anyone who wants to build applications to run on it. With any luck, this will start a wave of innovation like the one that has hit the mobile-phone space, where hundreds of thousands of apps have been created in just the past few years. As Google says, "The coolest thing about Google TV is that we don't even know what the coolest thing about it will be."

Google gives the software away at no cost to any TV maker, and those companies can modify the code. What's in it for Google? Google says the idea is simply to get more people using Google's online services, like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, where they will be exposed to Google's advertising. …