Google TV, And Optimizing The Web For The 10 Foot Experience

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Last week at Google I/O, we got our first glimpse of Google TV, a new product due to launch this fall that combines the best of the web with television. Thing is, as anyone who has set up an HTPC can probably attest to, the web isn’t exactly tailored for the so-called 10 foot experience — it’s hard to use an Internet browser when you’re sitting on the other site of the room. So how does Google plan to work around that when Google TV launches?

I asked that question during a press conference held immediately after Google TV was first unveiled. The answer, which primarily came from Google Senior Product Manager Rishi Chandra, is that we’ll probably see something akin to what happened with mobile sites, where websites create versions that are optimized for Google TV and similar products. But Chandra says that one key point is that sites won’t necessarily have to make any changes in order to give a reasonably good experience (in other words, there won’t be a chicken-and-egg problem where consumers won’t have content to look at). We’ve embedded the video of his response below. Here’s a rough transcript of his answer:

“There are a couple of things that we do in the browser. One is the speed, a second is zoom-to-fit automatically so that sites will actually display correctly. I would say a couple things, I think one I definitely agree that they’re not optimized for the ten foot experience but I think what you’re going to find is that a lot of the sites we showed you today work reasonably well on the ten foot experience. And I think the same thing that we saw happen with mobile is going to happen to TV. We can send users to a whole bunch of new content sites, and as content providers see the new traffic, they’re going to optimize as they see fit. I think the key is that they don’t have to optimize from day one. From day one all of their content is accessible over the web because of the browser we’re putting into Google TV, and that allows them to further enhance it as they see fit.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen added to Chandra’s explanation, saying that it is “early in the evolution of how people will author for these devices, but that [Adobe] is committed to providing great tools” to help sites optimize and repurpose their content.

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