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October 21, 2010

Google TV: Your TV Experience Is About to Change

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“The coolest thing about Google TV is that we don’t even know what the coolest thing about it will be.”

-Google

Google TV allows you to access the Web and watch television from your TV, giving you access to everything you would normally see in your Web browser combined with a plethora of pictures, videos, music, TV shows and a ton of additional media – all of which can be accessed simultaneously.

Google TV is a boxtop that plugs into your cable and broadband connections. It’s a standalone platform that integrates everything we love about the Internet into our living room TV sets. It does what we all hoped Microsoft’s WebTV would accomplish. But the service goes further than any other system has by incorporating things like apps, just as you have on your iPhone, iPad or Google Android. Google claims this allows users to have a seamless experience between their tablet or smartphone and TV – you can even use your phone as the remote.

Google TV also integrates with DVR, as well as working with cable and satellite services. This integration allows users of the service to watch current TV programming as well as recorded content. When users turn on their TV, they’re greeted by a customizable home page, where they can access their favorite channels, apps and websites.

Google-TV-Home

How Do I Get It?

Google TV’s hardware is now available for purchase, and there is a lot of discussion about the cheapest way to access Google TV. Currently, you can get a separate box to use with your TV, unless you plan to buy a new Google TV-ready Sony Internet TV. The Logitech Revue introductory box and keyboard is $300. A bit steep.

Why Should I Care?

Have you considered getting an iPad? Hasn’t everyone? Google TV basically provides the same solution in a different package. Hasn’t every geek wanted to combine the experience of laying on the couch, watching TV and surfing the Web without the smoking-hot laptop burning your legs up?You can either hold the Internet in your hands (à la Steve Jobs) or you can use your LCD or Plasma [snickers] to explore the Web and TV programming in its entirety on The Tube.

GoogleTV-Search

My family currently uses a Roku device, which I love because it allows me to watch Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand. And with Hulu Plus, I am seriously lobbying the fam to cut our cable. And isn’t that the best part of services like Google TV? How many people are fed up with their local cable companies? I, for one, would like to see our cable company, which shall remain nameless, feel the heat for a little while.

How Will Google TV Affect My Business?

If you’re a business owner, why should you care? The answer is simple: Reach. Have you ever considered paying for a TV commercial? Have you seen the price tag? Google isn’t going to be running TV ads; however, combining the TV and Internet into one experience opens doors for additional ways to market your business. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of commercials, but I am a huge fan of product placement through user-behavior analysis. If Google TV turns out to be what I’m thinking, it’s a perfect fit for users and businesses.

Businesses can create specialized versions of their websites for a widescreen audience. Several big names already have their own customized “channels” available for launch [While other networks are boycotting Google TV, like ABC, CBS and NBC – Jessica].

GoogleTV-CNN

If you sell a unique product, your little site has a big opportunity to get its name out there. The only hitch is that smaller companies need a leg up about what to do to get their adorable little website formatted for Google TV. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the purpose of the section to follow.

(Buzzkill warning: As you might have been able to tell, I’m more than a little bit excited about Google’s new venture. Partially because I am sick of hooking my desktop to my TV, which is a headache. And I hate cable. Well I hate paying for it. But after I read all that goes into the production of a Web channel, I got a tiny bit less excited. Being from geekland, where I was the first on my block with a website, I‘m itching to create my own obnoxious Google channel. But now I’m thinking maybe tomorrow or next week … maybe never.)

How Do I Optimize My Website for Google TV?

You need to start answering that question by asking a lot more questions. Let’s start at the beginning with the Google TV Web Site Optimization Guide. Google has been busy getting its information out there for the masses. And while everything you need is available, it’s enough information to make your head spin. This guide introduces Web developers/business owners to to the uncompromising world of Web TV.

GoogleTV-WebSite-Optimization-Guide

Just some of the things Google asks you to consider when optimizing your website for TV include:

  • Distance from the screen. Design your channel to be easy to read and watch from a distance. TV viewers are going to sit relatively far from the screen.
  • Speed vs. aesthetic. Your channel should combine both beautiful and compelling graphics, but not at the expense of speed. Viewers will leave quickly if your channel lags.
  • No scrolling. Scrolling on a TV interface detracts from the TV channel, make sure to design for a no-scrolling environment.
  • Simple interfaces. Remember the book, “Don’t Make Me Think!”? Make interfaces that are simple, clean and obvious.

Google TV Website Optimization Checklist

You can also take a look at Google’s thorough checklist for optimizing your site for TV, which covers:

  • Display guidelines
  • Design guidelines
  • Navigation guidelines
  • Other miscellaneous guidelines

Once small businesses find out all that’s required to optimize a site for TV, I’m going to venture to guess they will take the wait-and-see approach. This looks to be a major investment for non-designers and may detract from other optimization and paid advertising until it has been more thoroughly tested.

And yes, I’m still going to take a crack at it. What’s the worst that can happen? … Don’t answer that.

About the Author

Bradley Leese – Bradley joined Bruce Clay, Inc. in 2003 and is a senior SEO analyst. Combined with his seven years of experience as an SEO analyst, Bradley has more than seven years experience working as a Web developer with an emphasis in HTML programming, interface and usability design.

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6 responses to “Google TV: Your TV Experience Is About to Change”

  1. Tom writes:

    Um, haven’t you ever heard of Windows Media Center?

  2. Jacky writes:

    The google tv isn’t that cool. Many people thought they can cut off the cable service. In fact, it still uses the cable service together with a new piece of hardware. Nothing good if we spend another $499 for the same service we get. I would rather use a computer with keyboard to do the searching and watch it online.

  3. Bradley Leese writes:

    Jacky,

    I went to your site and read the rest of your post and I have to disagree, Google TV is wicked cool. I realize that if you are a DVR addict it isn’t going to replace your TV fix, but if you are like my family it might be a good alternative to save a few bucks. If we keep our Internet connection from our cable company, but dropped down to basic and purchased Hulu Plus for $9.95 + Netflix for $8.89 and bought the occasional movie on Amazon Unbox we would save roughly 75 – 100 bucks a month. Not bad.

    To go one step further there is a lot of content online that is much more fun to interact on a larger screen than with our 17 inch computer. There is nothing like watching Annoying Orange on our 42 inch LCD. Then consider content depth, take Youtube for example, have you ever done a search on your roku or boxee? The experience sucks. I want to be able to explore video and interactive content from my living room. Even Farmville would be more interesting to me if I could see what my fiancee was doing for hours on end.

    It isn’t going to be a perfect experience, but there is nothing else out there that allows you to experience the massive amount of content Google has access to for free. Apple TV sounds like a dream boxtop as does roku and boxee, but there is little or no ability to explore content outside their “censored” api feeds. Google TV feels like a new birth rather than a secluded portal.

  4. Dave Starr writes:

    Interesting, but a definite step in the wrong direction, me thinks.

    What the heck was the name of that horrid service from years back that used your TV set as the monitor, with a clunky keyboard to allegedly allow Internet surfing and email … WebTV or something like that?

    One of the fun things about being online as long as I have (since way before there even was a “www”) is the number of “new” ideas that are merely recycled versions of yester-year’s duds.

    Google is massive great at search, pretty damn good at advertising, but this is another consumer-based item they have missed the boat on completely.

    BTW, for future reference, the industry name for plug-in TV add ons like this are “set top boxes”, vice “box top boxes”.

  5. Trinity writes:

    A great reference, I’ve been reading a lot about google tv, bit interested but based on what I’ve been reading, I guess it’s n yet time. :D

  6. Andy Kuiper writes:

    Interesting article Bradley :-) I’m not sure if I’m excited about G tv or a bit afraid. I too don’t like spending $100.00 a month to watch television, but I’m not sure the type of content I’m interested in will be available via the internet… especially here in Canada (no Hulu). And I’m not too sure having G getting into tv will be a good thing for ‘everyone’. Thanks for your take on things though, and do keep us up to speed on what you think as you continue down this road.
    Andy :-)



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