Say Hello to Google TV

Logitech dropped the Revue yesterday, the first offering in what is sure to be a bevy of devices designed to bring the Web into your living room.  So with all the wonderful things your phone can do on a 3.5 inch screen in your pocket, why wouldn’t you want the same kind of customized content being fed to you on your big screen while you watch a related show? Well maybe because you’re giving Big Brother G a bunch of information about yourself in the process.  Every time a user fires up Google’s laser-like search functions he makes an implicit choice to pay a toll in the new currency of the Internet: personal information.  Don’t you forget it. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Consider the following video from 2009:

While your privacy-muscle may twitch when listening to CEO Eric Schmidt describe his vision for Smart-TVs, the fact of the matter is that no one’s making you use their services (which are free, and generally work really REALLY well).  And there’s no doubt that Page, Brin, and Schmidt will enhance the TV experience one way or another.

Netflix streaming will be accesible via an Android-based app provided for Google TV—which seems to indicate an Android phone app is likely on its way. It’s up to apps to make themselves open to Google TV’s universal search so results can show up. Negotiations between Google and Hulu are ongoing, meaning we could see Hulu Plus show up sometime soon.

Other apps will be available from a Google TV market—a silo within the Android Marketplace—which reps say should launch sometime next year, or “as fast as possible.” An SDK, based on the existing Android SDK, will be made available, with a Google rep saying devs “will be able to reuse a lot of code.” The same rep said a separate search algorithm—”Google TV Search”—draws from a wide body of content, including live television, guide listings, and, when paired with Dish, video stored on your DVR. The TV search will also pull in what’s on the web.

Gizmodo

So far, my own HTPC (a Windows PC plugged into my TV) has been good, not great.  But Logitech is a company that specializes in controllers and interfaces, so I’m optimistic that this could put a better spin on the experience.  From the viewpoint of a relatively educated consumer, it seems as though the Big G may wind up with more to offer Google TV customers than Apple can through iTunes.  Since 98% of Google’s revenue comes from search, they are not in the business of controlling or distributing content, just serving it to you as quickly and accurately as possible.  They want you to be able to find whatever the hell you want (and generally for free), because, frankly, they want to know what the hell it is you want so they can serve it to you in the form of targeted ads.  Apple on the other hand, wants to control every aspect of its content-distribution ecosystem, and make micro-transactions on each individual episode you “rent” (read: play on demand).  That’s great for Steve, but might end up limiting how much content they’re able to get on board.  Either way, we’re watching the future of Television unfold.  You might want to stay tuned.

Why Not? Chuck Klosterman Essays to Follow iTunes Model

The New York Times is reporting that Scribner has decided to give the iTunes model of selling individual songs for $0.99 a try in their line of work.  After all, any wannabe musicologist knows that the record industry was born of the publishing business.  And who better to captain the flagship than my favorite essayist, Chuck Klosterman.

Mr. Klosterman, the best-selling author of “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” and “Eating the Dinosaur,” has written on culture, music, sports and media, and collected a diverse following of readers along the way. The plan to publish his essays individually was hatched more than a year and a half ago, said Susan Moldow, the publisher of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster whose list of writers includes Annie Proulx, Laura Bush and Frank McCourt.

“We thought, it’s a shame not to follow the iTunes model here, because you have all these essays and they’re all on different subjects and we could recast them,” Ms. Moldow said. “It harkens back in a funny way because for Fitzgerald and Hemingway, the best thing that could happen to them would be that a story was published in Life magazine or The Saturday Evening Post or The New Yorker. The idea of stories being sold in individual units is as old as stories.”

NYT

Gotta say, this makes a lot of sense.  I don’t own an e-reader myself, but if Apple and Amazon are fixin’ to make them the new iPod, which I imagine they are, it would be an absolute shame to not follow the model that revolutionized the music business earlier this decade.  There may even be room for a subscription model in there too, (depending on the productivity of the writer of course), where you can plunk down a certain amount once you’re sold on the author and know you’re going to want everything he writes in the future – like buying his books ahead of time at a discount and getting them automatically on your e-reader the day they are released in print.

Klosterman’s books are great collections of essays and I recommend all of them.  Easy reading that doesn’t sacrifice intellect or humor but is abundant in both.

Thanks to Jared for knowing I would love this.

Follow Chuck on Twitter @CKlosterman.