It has recently been announced that in July of this year Google plans to launch a television, powered by Android and manufactured by Sony that will offer an integrated multimedia platform for playing games, watching TV, surfing the web and more. Sony was probably the first company to blaze a trail in this regard a number of years ago but since then the market for smart televisions has grown. The news that Google is committed to releasing one has also helped rekindle rumours that Apple also intends to begin competing more seriously on the same ground at some point soon. Currently it sells an internet TV set for £100 but its functionality is limited compared to what Google is about to launch.
In the UK these TVs will sell for between £200 and £300. A version has already been selling in the United States since 2010 where it has been a spectacular flop. The US manufacturer (LG) eventually pulled out when more customers returned their television sets than bought them in one month. Since then, however, Google has invested a lot more into developing the product and especially in integrating its other services (like Youtube) into it.
The coolest part? Probably the remote control with the full qwerty keyboard on the bottom. The idea is, clearly, not that you buy a T.V that is a little bit like a computer but that you get as close to a full hybrid between the two as is possible, creating a lynchpin for your media environment at home. Within the corporate world the analogy made is to the smartphone. In the early 2000s there was no adequate internet provision on phones. The moment the technology was perfected, phones offering improved internet access flew off the shelves. With the internet playing an increasingly large role in our lives people want it on every device they regularly use, whether it be a phone or a TV.
The main point of Google developing this TV set, however, seems to be less about selling them in volume than about staking a claim to a large segment of the market while it is still in its early days. Although Google probably isn’t assuming that the UK launch will be as big of a flop as the American one it’s probably quite prepared to suffer modest sales figures at the same time. It’s not about creating the TV to end all TV’s yet, just about staking a claim to what is likely to be the next big thing in a few years time.