SA braces for Google television
Internet giant Google plans to roll out its internet TV service around the world starting next year - and it might be heading for South Africa
.Google launched Sony Internet TV in the US last month and viewers there are now able to watch TV and browse the internet on the same screen at the same time using a wireless internet platform.
Sony Internet TV requires viewers to buy high-tech Sony TV sets that have a built-in web browser - so viewers will not need land-line access to take advantage of the service.
With Google TV, viewers can search for shows by typing "what's on" on the navigator and clicking on a programme category such as "comedy" or "sports".
Viewers can also search for their favourite TV shows by name.
Sony Internet TV sets, which have high-definition monitors, costs about R4197 for a 61cm screen and up to R9799 for a 117cm screen.
Julie Taylor, a spokesman for Google South Africa, said there was no indication at this stage on when the service will be available in South Africa.
"Google TV is currently available in the US only.
"It will be available internationally next year and we will have more to announce then," she said.
Taylor said there is no monthly subscription for Google TV.
"The user would maintain a regular internet connection through his internet service provider.
"Google TV is not a service, it is a platform. It brings the internet to your TV, similar to the way in which the browser on your computer or phone allows you to access the internet," she said.
"What Google TV does is bring your existing web experience to your TV, which is usually the biggest and best screen in your house."
Timothy Barnard, product manager for Bravia at Sony SA, said there was neither a launch date nor pricing information available for South Africa because Sony needed to take a joint decision with Google "based on the country's infrastructure".
Ryan Smit, a research analyst from BMI Tech-Knowledge, said internet TV would be viable in South Africa.
"I believe that it would be viable in South Africa in terms of bandwidth, but that the experience might not be as smooth as it should be," he said.
"Uncapped broadband would probably be recommended, especially if the consumer is planning on using Google TV daily."
Smit said there could be a "reasonable level of demand" from local consumers, but demand will depend of the price of the new Sony devices compared to existing non-internet TVs.