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Google IO thoughts #1 – Google TV

Google came on really strong this week at IO. It has taken me several days to process all of the announcements and I am just starting to grok what happened. There was so much that I am going to approach it in several posts. My first post is Google TV.

First let me say that I knew about Google TV the night before the public announcement. I was playing the IO SCVNGR hunt and couldn’t find the barcode on the water fountain. I wandered upstairs and was told by a big security guard that the only water fountain on this floor was “that one over there.” I walked where he was pointing and found myself in the main hall where the keynote is. There on the screen in huge letters was “GOOGLE TV – TV meets web, web meets TV.” Yes, I blew the opportunity to snap a photo and send it to Techcrunch.

I don’t own a TV and hardly ever watch one. All of my media is consumed through my laptop, ipad, android devices, ipod touch, or good ole fashion book. I just don’t like TV. To me it is an offensive medium. The shows are sensational and lowest common denominator. The ads are obtrusive and irrelevant. The fact that you have to watch things on schedule is outdated. TV to me represents one of the last holdovers from the old age. The age of one to many.

The web on the other hand is like an infinite faceted jewel. It is something different to each person. Watch what you want when you want. Go from the mainstream hits all the way down the long tail to the super niche. Text, video, music, games, and data all mashed up into compelling web apps that are accessible 24 hours a day from your computer or mobile device.

TV has been waiting to be rethought. As Google pointed out during the keynote–television is a $70 billion a year advertising market. It’s the broadest market on earth. But like I said, the problem is that it’s lowest common denominator. You have to throw the largest net possible to scoop up as many people as possible. Enter Google TV.

Google TV’s interface is deceptively simple. It’s just a search box that drops down in a light-boxesque manner at the top of the screen. You type in a search term and it searches whats on tv right now – whats on tv in the future and whats on the web. Of course it uses a little AJAX to suggest terms from what you’ve typed in. During the keynote they typed in “Mother’s Day” and it suggested “Mothers Day MILF.” :)

At this point I was still basically not interested. Like I said, I don’t watch TV. But then they started showing Android on TV and that is when the scales fell off of my eyes. The first thing they showed that was really interesting was pushing an app from a pc to the TV. They fired up the marketplace. Bought an app and told the app to be downloaded on the TV. In real time the TV started downloading the app. This is pretty cool.

Then they showed pushing a website from the pc to the mobile phone. They fired up the browser on the PC and went to a website. Then acting like it was time to leave they sent that exact site to the phone. In real time the browser opened on the phone with the website. That is also pretty cool.

Next they brought up a google map on the computer and pushed it out the the phone in real time. When you combine these three situations you have something that is extremely compelling.

Imagine being able to get an app and push it between your phone, your pc/mac, and your big screen tv. Also imagine surfing a website and pushing it between your phone, mac/pc, and TV. That is a very exciting situation. To top it off you have the entire Android platform built into the TV. This opens up the potential for an entirely new generation of applications that will be suited to that environment.

Android still very much has a UI issue when compared to the iPhone. It just isn’t as elegant. There aren’t the smooth animations between orientation changes. And the accelerometer only recognized 2 orientations compared to the iPhones 4. The marketplace was revamped but could still use a little polish. But all in all the Android platform has made some serious strides very quickly.

The Google TV announcement part of the keynote was one of the most uncomfortable I have ever seen. It was a total fail. All of the geeks in the crowd were slurping up the bandwidth and these poor guys couldn’t even get the thing to work properly. All the while there were 8 CEO’s backstage getting ready to come out and talk about how great it was. On top of this they had actual tv playing on the two huge screens on both sides of the stage. So we literally saw somebody bonging a beer on the evening news. Some news reports about child abuse and war. Stupid and offensive TV commercials. It was the epitome of evening american television and it seemed to go on forever. I truly felt bad for these guys.

But I can take a step back and look at the big picture and realize that this is the beginning of a big shift for television. TV now gets modern in a big way. It will also grow on an innovation rate with android now. And android is on fire. This is exciting.

Below are some pictures from the first day after party and keynote. Keep in mind this is before they gave us the EVO and my droid’s camera isn’t that great. And yes that is the actual IO podium :)

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