Google TV: What Does It Mean?

Google formally unveiled its Google TV offering today, and it looks like a game changer.

Writes Google TV product manager Salahuddin Choudhary on the official Google blog:

Google TV uses search to give you an easy and fast way to navigate to television channels, websites, apps, shows and movies. For example, already know the channel or program you want to watch? Just type in the name and you’re there. Want to check out that funny YouTube video on your 48″ flat screen? It’s just a quick search away. If you know what you want to watch, but you’re not sure where to find it, just type in what you’re looking for and Google TV will help you find it on the web or on one of your many TV channels. If you’d rather browse than search, you can use your standard program guide, your DVR or the Google TV home screen, which provides quick access to all of your favorite entertainment so you’re always within reach of the content you love most.

In other words, television and web content, aggregated on your living room high definition screen. And with partners like Sony and Logitech on board, Google TV will have some serious distribution muscle behind it

There are a few key hurdles Google still has to climb before it can claim any sort of victory here.

as The New York TimesBrad Stone noted in his liveblog of the Google event today, the price of the Google TV products is still unknown. If it is too expensive, people will probably pass. Secondly, it still isn’t clear how easy it will be to use. The interface looks slick and impressive, but most people still program their TV sets with remote controls, which are, shall we say, less than helpful for anything other than changing a channel or pressing “record” on your DVR.

Google had technical trouble during the demonstration, for which it used a wireless keyboard connected to a TV. Who uses a wireless keyboard to control their TV? No one I know. The tech company claims to be working on a new generation of remotes, but until they arrive, the service could be clunky to control.

It will will put a number of companies, like web-to-TV startup Boxee, under the gun, because they now have to compete with an 800 pound gorilla. It also puts pressure on Apple to either revamp its Apple TV product, or kill it altogether.

For television networks, it could mean that the competition they face on the web become that much more competitive. There has been a disconnect between web content and TV content, mostly because TV’s have just not been connected to the online world, they have been a walled garden. If Google TV catches on, that disconnect disappears, and watching a web series like “The Guild” becomes just as easy as tuning in to “The Real Housewives of New York” (or, you know, “Lost”)

Hulu blocked Boxee from accessing its content on TV screens because its owners, which include NBC Universal, News Corp. and Disney are trying to protect their core television businesses. Theoretically they could block Google TV from accessing Hulu as well, but it doesn’t change that fact that the web to TV floodgates will be open.

And there will be casualties.

Google’s official video explaining Google TV is below.