Google TV 2.0 takes second bite at Web TV market

Google has revamped its Google TV offering, hoping to woo web-savvy consumers with version 2.0 after the failure of the platform's first outing.

Google TV, which is currently built into some Sony TVs and set-top boxes from Logitech, allows users to access the web via their TV, providing access to content such as online videos and video games.

Google TV 2.0, built around the Honeycomb 3.0 version of its Android OS, replacing the cluttered interface with a cleaner, tablet-style look. It provides users with new tools to recommend programmes and other content - and makes it easier for developers to create apps for the platform. The new system will also provide full access to the search giant's Android Market.

"There's a lot of thirst for using the Web in the living room," said Google Product Management VP Mario Queiroz, who heads up Google TV, reports news agency Reuters - though, perhaps reflecting the company's lack of success first time round, Queiroz dubbed Google TV 2.0 a "long-term bet."

Google is tight-lipped about how many subscribers the first outing of its Google TV platform attracted, but many analysts have declared the product a failure - chiefly due to its expensive $299 entry-level price tag, though Logitech's boxes have since been slashed to $100.

But industry watchers are unsurprised at Google coming back for another shot - for a company that makes the lion's share of its profit from advertising, TV is an irresistible prospect.

IDC analyst Danielle Levitas explains: "The reason [companies such as Google] have all been eyeing this market is that there's not that many markets that are 200 million plus units a year and have an installed base of a billion plus screens.

"You can't ignore markets that big, on screens that are that important in terms of hours spent and media delivered."

Existing Google TV devices will be automatically upgraded to the new 2.0 version of Google TV beginning Sunday. New devices running the system are due to appear next year.