The first few products featuring Google’s TV software have received lukewarm reviews, and the first downloadable apps for the platform are months away. So Google is trying to persuade Web developers to create the first wave of interactive content for the platform by making web pages and in-browser “web apps” to ignite enthusiasm for the “TV meets Web” project.
Ambarish Kenghe, a Google TV product manager, says his team recently gave away 10,000 Google TV devices to Web developers in the United States to encourage them to develop for the platform.
Google TV is an operating system for TV devices that makes it possible to view both web content and regular broadcasts through one interface. The first products with it built in launched last month, including TV sets and Blu-Ray players from Sony, and a set-top box from Logitech. Those devices can run “native,” or installable, apps that offer complex functionality because Google TV is a variant of the Android operating system for smartphones. But the Android app market won’t come to the platform until spring or summer 2011, Kenghe says.
Until then only websites and web apps—applications that run in the browser—can bring extra video and music content, and even games, to compatible devices.
“Google TV needs great content to be a success,” says Daren Tsui, CEO and cofounder of mSpot, a company that provides a service that lets users upload music to the Web and then stream it from a smart phone or any device with a Web browser.
Google approached mSpot two months ago and asked the company to develop a Web app of its service for Google TV. The resulting app, which launched this week, will let users stream music and movies to a Google TV device, adding to the content already available via Google TV. That content includes movies and TV shows from services like Amazon Video On Demand and Netflix. “At the end of the day, people are really buying the content as much as the box,” Tsui says.
Kenghe says using a Web app on Google TV is closer to using a native app than it is to browsing a website. “The experience really makes use of the whole TV screen—there’s no URL bar at the top or anything as you would see on a computer, and you can make full use of Flash for interactivity.”