Google TV shakes industry – but is it the future?

At an NBA All Star event, you expect the big names: Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Steven Nash.

Well, Google has pulled together an all-star roster for its newest project: Google TV. Pairing up with industry giants Sony, Intel, and Logitech, Google hopes to create the first (successful) internet-TV integrated platform. This is no Globetrotters team, folks. This is the real deal.

But the concept, as cool and seemingly efficient as it may appear, has been a miserable failure for years. A recent example would be Apple’s attempt. While Apple TV products are still for sale and the system still functions, it never flew off like their other products. Despite constant risks of cannibalization from their highly similar line-ups of iPods, iPhones, and iPads, Apple has made roaring success of them. But perhaps their TV product, and other TV products past, failed because they went solo. (Or perhaps Apple just needed to name it something with a lowercase “i” and a capital “P.”)

Google, along with partners Intel, Sony and Logitech announced on Thursday the launch of their development for the Google TV platform, which will blend broadcast TV and Internet into one interface. Each company takes over roles that they specialize in. Google will supply the software. Sony will supply exclusive, customized high-definition TVs (and Blu-ray DVD players). And for those devices, Intel will supply the highly optimized Atom CE4100 chip. The service is expected be available later this year.

A few things that make Google TV a notch above and a step ahead of its withering competition: first, that it’s not a “set-top box” –  that is to say, it’s not a physical device you connect to your TV, but is actually embedded into your TV like software. And Google TV appears to boast the capability to stream anything directly off the Web, as well as DVR functionality – all of which prior attempts at web-TV integration have sorely lacked.

Apple, who has famously dubbed their TV efforts as a “hobby,” may either abandon the project due to Google’s invasion, or sharply increase the aggression and innovation of the device. Should they do neither, the former will occur by default. Microsoft is also expected to take some definitive course of action in response with regards to its Windows Media Center.

An article from the Benton Foundation sums up the market scenario well: “While interactive TV has long been in the works from other providers, technology and a host of other issues have kept it from reaching a scale that would attract more money from major advertisers. Google’s existing relationships . . . could theoretically turn the tide for interactive TV.”

Will Google be a revolution or merely an evolution? What do you anticipate?