UPDATED 10:18 EDT / OCTOBER 04 2010

Google TV is Here (Almost), and All Content is Up for Grabs

There are so many ways to think of the Google TV service–a replacement for premium cable packages, the convergence of TVs into the web era, the on-demand content sharing we’ve always dreamed of. Now that Google TV’s site has launched and its products are on the horizon, we can get a better handle on what Google TV will actually be.

Turns out, it’s all of the above.

Looking through the new Google TV site, there are feature highlights and teasers that would get anyone excited. Google TV combines the web and television, with the glue of search and accessibility. Your phone and TV can talk to each other, you can search the web as well as program guides, and access web and mobile apps directly from your TV.

And the type of content you’ll find on Google TV is more than just NBC episodes and old movies. With the mobile app market serving as a pre-cataloged library for consumers, Google TV is able to integrate social networking sites like Twitter, video feeds like YouTube, newspaper articles from the likes of The New York Times, and HBO programming into a single interface. From the start, Google TV is simply about content consumption.

From Google’s blog:

* Turner Broadcasting has been hard at work optimizing some of their most popular websites for viewing on Google TV, including TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, available anytime through Google TV.
* NBC Universal has collaborated with Google TV to bring CNBC Real-Time, an application that allows you to track your favorite stocks and access news feeds while enjoying the best financial news from CNBC directly on the TV screen.
* HBO will bring access to hundreds of hours of original programming to Google TV with HBO GO. Authenticated subscribers will soon be able to access all of their favorite HBO content on-demand in an enhanced website for Google TV.
* NBA has built NBA Game Time, an application that lets you follow game scores in real-time and catch up on the latest highlights from your favorite team in HD.

In addition, we’ve partnered with some of the leading premium content providers to bring thousands of movie and TV titles, on-demand, directly to your television. Amazon Video on Demand offers access to over 75,000 titles for rental or purchase, and Netflix will offer the ability to instantly watch unlimited movies and TV shows, anytime, streaming directly to the TV.

This is Google’s effort towards incorporating the television screen into everything else we’re already doing on our computers and smartphones. And as liberating as this seems, Google is still going the “traditional” route with a set top box from Logitech, and a web-ready television from Sony. Both products have been out for some time, by other manufacturers, even with some looking to distribute apps through their own marketplace.

Google TV requires some hefty purchases for the full, supported experience, landing smack-dab in the middle of the holiday shopping season with its autumn release. Is this the best way for Google to compete with Apple, which already has entertainment hubs locked around its family of devices? Will Google TV encroach on Microsoft’s personal cloud efforts of distributing media through game consoles, running apps on XBoxes and the like?

While I’m anxious about Google TV, there still appears to be some barriers for the type of consumer uptake that will compete with Apple. One thing is for sure; Google will be monetizing the crap out of Google TV, encouraging advertising and distribution standards that will characterize the platform itself, as well as an entire industry that’s already started to grow, with services like Live Matrix preparing for the digital media revolution.

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