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FAQ: What We Know So Far About Google TV

It’s very had to overstate the potential impact of Google TV (GTV) announced today. While there have been numerous efforts to put the internet on TV in the past (including Apple TV), none have really succeed with mainstream consumers. This may be the first Web-TV integration that has that potential.

Our Why Google TV Might Threaten The iPad post has some reflection on the potential deeper implications of Google TV, and we’ll have even more “big picture” pieces later. But for now, the nuts-and-bolts of on how it will work, how to get it and more:

What is Google TV and when will it be available?

Google says that Google TV is an “open platform” that unites TV programming and the internet. It supports Flash and makes the “full internet” available in the living room on TVs. It will be available through set-top boxes(Logitech is the first company saying it will build one) and directly through “integrated” TV sets (the only one of which right now will be from Sony). Dish TV is also promising integration.

The search and browse capabilities, which integrate web and TV content side by side in results were impressive.

When? Both Sony and Logitech said their Google TV-powered devices will come out in the fall of 2010. Dish TV hasn’t given a date, but it seems likely to also happen later this year.

Will I have to buy a new TV?

No. Google TV is intended to work with existing TVs. Sony’s forthcoming TV doesn’t require a set-top box. However Logitech’s box will be available for current sets. The TV or the box will need an HDMI input or output respectively.

Who are the partners involved at launch?

The initial group of companies involved in GTV include Intel (chip), Sony (TV), Logitech (set-top box), Best Buy (retailer), DISH Network (content provider with unique integration). Google TV also supports Flash so Adobe is a partner as well.

How will these devices be branded?

The branding of Google TV and related hardware devices will be highly analogous to the way Android handsets are presented (i.e., XX brand “with Google”). Incidentally, GTV is built on the Android platform (not ChromeOS). It also runs Android apps and can be controlled (as in remote control) by Android devices.

Will it replace cable TV?

This is an interesting question to consider and one that will take time to answer. Users won’t need a cable TV subscription (though they will need WiFi in the home) to access GTV. So it’s at least possible that the web content and video, Netflix and Hulu that GTV offers via the internet could well substitute for a cable subscription. But content publishers like Hulu will have the choice and ability to block Google TV if they like. This is what happened with Hulu and Boxee previously.

Most people who pay for cable today are unlikely to “unplug” because of this. But there will likely be a group of people who simply use Google TV (or other comparable tools) to get internet content, Neflix and web video in the living room, as an alternative to paying for a cable subscription.

Will there be advertising on Google TV?

All the ads right now will come either from traditional TV sources or existing internet sources/publishers/networks. However Google Engineering VP Vic Gundotra said that he felt new ad formats will likely emerge and evolve specifically for GTV.

Will Google TV “track” or collect data about me like online sites?

Google said that there will be the same privacy options (e.g., “incognito”) and controls for Google TV as there are via Chrome online (the TV browser is Chrome). But yes there will be tracking and data collection, partly for personalization and partly for ad ROI accountability and targeting.

What will it cost?

This is a critical question that Google and its partners declined to answer repeatedly.

Will I have a keyboard?

Logitech says its box will have a remote that also integrates a keyboard. We don’t know if Sony and Dish TV will have separate remotes and keyboards or an integrated one.

Is it something I’ll want?

If Google TV performs and delivers as the demo, claims and screens suggest it will be a very desirable consumer product.

Postscript: Below are some additional useful links courtesy of Gary Price that help flesh out some of the questions and discussion above:

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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