Google revives TV buzz with SageTV buy

TV transformation 2.0

Faced with almost-universal indifference to Google TV, the Chocolate Factory has decided to splash some pocket change on buzz-generation and acquired SageTV.

Google announced that it had transformed television last year, but TV somehow remained stubbornly un-transformed. People are still perfectly happy to use YouTube, and even watch it on their TVs, but didn’t flock to unify the entire experience under Google’s guiding hand. Additionally, the paucity of devices hasn’t embedded Google TV into the consumer electronics world.

The latest candidate for the elephants’ graveyard has media centre control and place-shifting software – the latter noticeably missing from Google TV – but also a credible consumer brand.

Even place-shifting, one of the attractions of SageTV, isn’t without problems, with broadcasters’ attitudes ranging from wary to hostile. Earlier this year, a Japanese court decided that place-shifting services are illegal if they allow content to be viewed from offshore locations. Lawsuits against cloud PVRs failed, however, in Singapore (against Record TV) and the US (against Cablevision).

Some developers have seen opportunity in Google TV. Earlier this month, Slingbox decided it could outdo Google’s approach, and launched a beta earlier this month which gives its users an interface to Google TV.

SageTV’s Website announcement promises that its ideas will reach "users worldwide”, which will be news to people in countries like Australia, where Google’s initial hype (and rapturous reception) has yet to be matched by any local service launch. ®

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