Eric Schmidt launching Google TV at Google's I/O conference earlier this year. Paul Sakuma/AP

Google TV to hit virtual airwaves later this Autumn

The search company will start a new service integrating content from the web with traditional broadcasts.

GOOGLE HAS FOLLOWED UP on Apple’s launch of a new, slimmed-down Apple TV product by announcing that its own web-to-TV service, Google TV, will launch before the end of the year.

The service aims to integrate some of the web’s more commonly-used tools into the TV viewing experience – allowing users to tweet about the news while watching it on the same TV set, for example, or to check a fantasy football team’s performance while watching a game.

It also allows videos streamed online through YouTube or other online video players to a television. In time, the service could potentially bypass the need for a television aerial or any kind of cable or satellite subscription.

The service – which will also require users to buy a new add-on box that will plug into their televisions, though the company is working with manufacturers to have the service built-in to newer models – was first showcased in May, but no firm launch intentions had been announced.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt yesterday announced in Berlin, however, that the service would hit shelves before the end of the year. It is unlikely that such a product will be ready for the Irish market for some time, however, but the company is keen to bring the platform to a global audience in 2011.

“Once you have Google TV, you’re going to be very busy,” Schmidt said. “It’s going to ruin your evening.”

The announcement sees Apple and Google adopt distinct ideologies about the role of embedding online content to a television. Apple’s philosophy, as described by CEO Steve Jobs, is that users “don’t want a computer on their TV – they have computers. They go to their wide-screen TVs for entertainment, not to have another computer.”

Google, however, is keen to expand the role of internet browsing through a TV, hoping to ultimately bring its search product – its key money-spinner, by means of placing ads alongside search results.