Google’s agreement with Sony and Intel to create a new platform for web surfing through television – in context with other recent announcements – continues Google’s efforts to find a way into your living room.
Television remains the top entertainment appliance in the household, but how content reaches that television is changing. Not only have DVD’s and TiVO made the term “appointment television” obsolete, but the embrace of online video by content providers has greatly threatened cable’s position as the provider of high-quality content. With web-enabled televisions becoming more prevalent, traditional cable is less important than ever.
Many cable providers are also high-speed internet providers, which is lucky for them. But Google has been the starting point of the internet for years. After becoming the top search engine, they created useful tools such as a customized homepage, sharable calendars, and a news aggregator; everything was built with the intention that when you sat down at your computer, Google would be the place you would want to start. That, of course, makes it easier to collect information on you to better target their ads.
Now that the internet will be accessed more directly through television, Google wants to be your starting point there, too. Again, all the better to target you for advertising, which is how they get their food money.
This will present some challenges for Google as various pieces of their business come together. Remember Google’s recent announcement of plans to expand fiber optic broadband access. That would put Google in charge of your access point to the internet (TV, computer, or Android-enabled smartphone), the pipeline that brings the internet to you (fiber optic network), and the content that you see on the internet (through search results, news aggregators, YouTube videos, Google Books, etc.). All along the way, Google will be able to build a profile of you – what you look for, what you click on, what you watch, where you shop – and of course show you ads to make that food money.