Google TV launches its service in UK
Nearly two years after its American launch, Google and Sony have announced that Google TV will be available in the UK from 16th July.
Google TV has struggled in the US, with original partner Logitech losing millions and later pulling out of the collaboration. The interface has been redesigned since its initial unveiling and Google has invested heavily in developing the product, having recognised the increasing market demand for living room internet access. The gadget is based on Google’s Android software for smartphones and amid the rise in sales of Smart TVs, Google TV gives users access to the most popular online applications, such as YouTube and BBC iPlayer. Google hopes that more users will rent films via their new service boasting a library of films and is anticipating that software developers will write apps for the television market as they have done for smartphones and tablets. Costing between £200 and £300, the set-top box also has a range of specially designed applications, where Google and Sony are seeking to market their product as a more rounded rival to Apple’s Apple TV, which is already available in the UK for £99. Unlike Apple TV, Google TV offers the entire online realm to its users.
Google is aiming for internet on television to be more of a “lean back experience” and Suveer Kothari, head of Google’s global TV distribution, said:
“We think there’s going to be huge benefits from bringing the internet to TV. Google TV attempts to address the problem that there’s not really a great experience to access the internet on your TV screen, which is a similar problem we saw in the smartphone market five years ago.”
Features on the device include a dual-sided remote control, with a touchpad on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other and like Apple’s product, a smartphone or tablet can be used as a remote. The gadget can also be voice-controlled and has a motion-controlled remote for gaming.
From October, the Google TV service will be built into Sony Blu-Ray players. Sony’s European head of marketing, Gildas Pelliet, said: “Entertainment content is available through so many channels and sites and Google TV helps consumers easily find what they want to watch, listen to or play with the freedom of the internet and using the familiar Chrome search engine technology”, which is an integral feature of the device.
Meanwhile, Apple is rumoured to be working on a flatscreen HD TV, while leading hardware manufacturers such as Samsung are already creating televisions which come ready connected to the web.
Despite the hefty price tag, the excitement surrounding Google TV is prompting rumours that the gadget will be a legitimate market contender at an important time for smart-TV development.