Rishi Chandra

Google sees a browser in every TV

October 14, 2010: 1:57 PM ET

In a discussion with Google's Rishi Chandra, I got insight into what Google sees for the future of TV.

Rishi Chandra demonstrating GoogleTV at Google I/O via Androidandme.com

Demo units are still en route to reviewers but I thought it would be interesting to get a look at where Google (GOOG) saw its GoogleTV product going over the coming months and years.  I spoke with Product Manager Rishi Chandra who unveiled the product at Google I/O earlier this year (with requisite wireless difficulties).

The first thing that caught me was his assertion that soon all TVs would have a browser built into them.  At first glance it  seems extraneous to put the needed hardware and user interface into all TVs, especially inexpensive ones.

Soon cheap ARM chips, already used as controllers in HDTVs, will be able to run an OS as complex as GoogleTV at roughly the same component cost.  The GoogleTVs that were released this week run on costlier but more powerful Intel chips.   But, as ARM-powered Roku and Apple with their sub- $100 offerings have shown, the price of making a TV smarter is plummeting.

Google plans to open source the GoogleTV OS next year.  The current software is based on Android 2.1, the OS that is making major inroads as a smartphoneOS running on cheap ARM chips.  Chandra said future upgrades will keep its phone and TV OSes relatively at parity.

Just like in smartphones, Google hopes that giving the OS away for free and making money on search is a winning strategy for TVs.  Advertising on GoogleTV won't start until next year.

The fact that GoogleTV runs an older version of Android means that browser and overall OS speed improvements will likely be coming soon in GoogleTV updates. More

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