Day 1 of Streaming Media West included a highly anticipated demo of Google TV, the much maligned, though much improved media platform for your living room.
To get you up to speed, Google TV came out last year to a lukewarm response. Very few people adopted it, which prompted a complete redesign. That redesign was then realized last week with the release of Google TV 2.0, but unfortunately, at least one critic still found the updated platform plagued with problems. For instance, while CNET's Matthew Moscovciak conceded that the new Android Honeycomb interface is sleek, he still considered the overall experience clunky and frustrating. And I'd have to agree.
But at the same time, I am still very hopeful when it comes to Google TV's future, mostly because of that little thing called the Android Market. The Android Market is fully integrated into the platform, and it's a huge key to its growth. At this point, it's a bit thin when it comes to apps developed specifically for Google TV, but it does have a few goodies like Clicker, News Republic, and Twitter to enjoy. Heck, there's even an adult entertainment application that was just released. The point is Google TV is still very much in its infancy, so I'm not ready to write it off yet. In fact, according to Shanna Preve, business development lead for Google TV, developer interest in the Google TV platform is through the roof, which means tons of new, innovative apps could be in the pipeline. Of course, we can take this with a grain of salt, but my gut says she's telling the truth.
One thing that kept my hope alive was the demonstration of the Classy Fireplace app for Google TV. While the app wasn't spectacular by any means, what struck me was its novelty. Apparently, people like to download the Classy Fireplace app, set it to mood music, and leave it on when company is over. This type of application is certainly unique to the television platform, and can offer a glimpse into Google TV's bright future. Now that developers are faced with the constraints of designing for a device situated in a living room, with users sitting about 10 feet away, I think we are in store for an influx of innovation.
Of course, before any such influx can occur, developers must first believe Google TV can be a moneymaker. But, if I were to judge by my experiences at the Streaming Media West conference so far, I'd say it's right on the cusp. There's a very palpable interest in this idea of a "digital living room," and Google TV appears to be positioning itself in the middle of it.