Google TV: Your TV Experience Is About to Change
“The coolest thing about Google TV is that we don’t even know what the coolest thing about it will be.”
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.
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.
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].
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.
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.