Google TV: Patience, deep pockets, and a place in the living room

Jim O'NeillThat buzzing noise you're hearing is the sound of the chatter beginning to pickup as Google TV gets ready to roll out in the United States in the next couple of months. While Google CEO Eric Schmidt was a little spare on the details during his keynote at the IFA trade show in Berlin this week, he did pique interest in the Google TV launch by talking about how "once you have Google television, you're going to be very busy."

Schmidt said the U.S. launch includes a 46-inch Sony HDTV and a Blu-ray player from partner Sony, as well as a set-top box and elegant remote from its other hardware partner, Logitech.

But, partners aside, at the core is Google, its technology and, more significantly, its cash and cachet. Google TV enters the marketplace with a heavyweight's swagger. It doesn't have to establish itself with consumers, or with advertisers, as both know it as a trusted tool that delivers results.

That it's going to allow users to interact with their TVs through smartphones and keyboards isn't unique, but the introduction of voice commands adds a wrinkle that many users are likely to find interesting; even if it's a very rudimentary interaction, like changing the channel or adjusting the volume, it's likely to drive early adopters to the platform. The question, obviously, is: Will it gain enough traction to transition to a broader acceptance? I don't think it matters in the short term.

If anything, Google's track record suggests the company isn't going to be champing at the bit for immediate results; look at how patient it's been with YouTube and how it's tweaked, then added a little more, then re-tweaked that property, all the while throwing buckets of money at it.

Patience, it seems, is one of Google's corporate virtues. And, in this case, it's going to be a virtue with its own rewards in the end: Google will be as ubiquitous in the living room--in some form--as it is on the the Internet. -Jim

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