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Google TV: In the Works, Developer-Friendly

After trying its hand at countless desktop, mobile, and web apps and products, Google has ambitions towards shaking up yet another, historically difficult frontier: television. According to the New York Times, Google is partnering up with Intel and Sony to develop Google TV, a new, Android OS-based platform with a Chrome browser (currently not supported by Android) and aspirations towards “mak[ing] it as easy for TV users to navigate Web applications … as it is to change the channel.” They’ve tapped Logitech to work on the peripherals.

Top-down attempts to hook up television with the web have not been especially successful in the past (see: MSN TV), and even Apple had what’s generally thought to be a clunker with its media-centric Apple TV, though TechCrunch’s MG Siegler thinks that Google TV could angry up Apple’s competitive spirit and revive its TV platform.

But the key idea behind Google TV isn’t so much “let’s figure out a way to bring the Web to your television set” so much as who would be doing a lot of the figuring: third-party developers.

From the Times‘ report:

Some existing televisions and set-top boxes offer access to Web content, but the choice of sites is limited. Google intends to open its TV platform, which is based on its Android operating system for smartphones, to software developers. The company hopes the move will spur the same outpouring of creativity that consumers have seen in applications for cellphones.

Google is expected to deliver a toolkit to outside programmers within the next couple of months, and products based on the software could appear as soon as this summer.

Google TV, then, would pit two primal forces against one another: the creativity and competitiveness that bubbles up when outside developers are brought in, and people’s traditional aversion towards using their TVs for web-surfing in any substantial way. It remains to be seen if the latter has just been a temporary blip.

(via New York Times. image via Seven Sided Cube)

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