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Is GoogleTV back on?

Posted: 12 May 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GoogleTV  Google I/O  Honeycomb tablets  GoogleTV STBs 

Based on the agenda for Google I/O, the search giant's annual developer conference that comes around this week, it seems like Google has hit the play button on its GoogleTV initiative, and Samsung may be its latest dance partner.

Clearly GoogleTV is back on the front burner. The dev con hosts sessions in writing Web- and Android-based apps for GoogleTV. The Web apps apparently do not require Google's Chrome browser, but are based on HTML5 and Adobe Flash, according to a session description.

Previously, Google has kept its TV environment closed to a small set of partners until it was ready to release the code as open source to developers. That is expected to happen at Google I/O given the class sessions I have seen on the Web.

The Samsung bit is pure speculation on my part.

Google and Samsung were scheduled to host a big press reception on May 11 in conjunction with Google I/O. Typically these soirees are motivated by a big news announcement.

The news could be that Samsung has rolled out its version of a tablet based on the Android version of Google's Honeycomb. That would be significant but by no means exclusive since Google gave Motorola's Xoom, launched several months ago, the pole position with Android tablets, so Samsung would at best be playing catch up.

A handful of other OEMs are planning Honeycomb tablets, but Google has yet to release the Honeycomb code as open source, angering many systems makers.

Samsung would also be an also-ran in GoogleTV. The initiative was launched a year ago, with key hardware partners Logitech and Sony promising systems based on Intel chips. LG, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba were expected to roll out GoogleTV products in January. But Google reportedly hit the pause button on the TV plan when content providers got wet feet about partnering with the Web company, which they feared would de-value their content.

Perhaps Samsung will launch both Honeycomb tablets and GoogleTV STBs. Given its status as a latecomer in both areas, it would make sense for the Korean giant to host a press event to polish its image as a leading Google partner.

But maybe I have it all wrong. Samsung could be up to who knows what.

Two things I do not see anywhere on the Google I/O agenda are Chrome OS, Google's environment for notebooks and desktops or anything about server design. Google could still tuck some news on those topics into the keynotes for a last minute surprise—and even announce a couple related developer sessions as late adds to the programme.

We shall see. At this point my crystal ball gets blurry.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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