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Guest Thinkers

Grappling to Envision Google TV

Not being able to find a demo of Google TV online, I am still at a loss as to why I would want Google TV. It was perhaps telling that at Google’s I/O developer conference the following “interesting facts” were used to introduce Google TV:

1. The average American watches five hours of TV a day.

2. Advertisers spend $70 billion annually in the American TV market.

3. There are four billion TV watchers in the world.

Now, there was virtually no technological innovation mentioned. Neither was there much mention of a benefit to the consumer until, that is, the presenter, Rishi Chandra, launched into an anecdote.

The anecdote is a skillful rhetorical device that creates an emotional connection between the presenter and his audience; it humanizes a presentation that might otherwise be a series of disconnected or sinister facts, such as the billions of dollars Google is most transparently after in the TV business. Well, as it turns out, Rishi Chandra, whose heritage is clearly from the subcontinent, and “his family”, represented by a domesticated white cartoon family during his stage presentation, have had the unimaginable misfortune of huddling around a laptop screen to watch a YouTube video, or whatever, on the Internet.

Woe is the family that must watch internet videos on a small screen!

To be fair, Google’s presentation was at a developer’s conference, so maybe they’re waiting to roll out all the Google TV magic before the public. One does not get that feeling, however. Not at all.

Mr. Chandra says he isn’t embarrassed to say he watches a lot of TV. A recent n+1 article accounts for TV’s reentrance into cultured people’s lives: the emergence of realistic serial dramas like The Wire makes it cool and brainy to watch TV again.

The funny thing is that I go to the Internet (TV Shack) to watch The Wire. It’s ironic that in order to fuse my two screeny devices, my laptop and TV, the way Google envisions, I would need to buy a new TV with Google TV already installed, or a new Google TV cable box to plug into my TV.

I’m all for Google’s innovative spirit and understand that in certain cases it may be driven by profit, but at the moment I’m okay with having a TV and a computer. I watch the TV when it’s already on and I go to my laptop when I want to watch a TV show.


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