Google TV: We're not dead (yet)

Google says Chromecast will exist alongside Google TV and not replace it. But that doesn't mean Google TV faces a static-free future.

Google's new Chromecast is small, about the size of the USB stick. But could it wind up being big enough to kill Google TV? James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google may have figured out a surefire way to get the Internet on your TV with its low-cost Chromecast dongle. But don't count Google TV out of the game just yet.

"Google TV is moving forward in a major way," Sundar Pichai told CNET after the company's press confab Wednesday morning announcing the Chromecast and the second version of the Nexus 7.

Google's Chrome, Android, and Web apps leader was adamant that Google TV wasn't shuffling offstage anytime soon. "You'll see more partners announced at CES," the annual Consumer Electronics Show held in January, he said.

There hasn't been much noise coming from Google TV recently, but the comments aren't surprising. At its Google I/O developer conference earlier this year, the company announced that the Android-based "smart TV" system for running a mix of streaming media content, apps, and the Internet itself on your TV would get an update to Jelly Bean during Q3 of this year.

And in November 2012, the company argued that development on Google TV was " making progress ".

What does that mean for the $35 Chromecast? It certainly looks like Google is pursuing a dual-pronged strategy for getting the Web "on all your screens," as Pichai emphasized several times on Wednesday. And if the version of Jelly Bean that lands on Google TV is Android 4.3, with its multiuser accounts and the restriction features those offer, parents could be taken with a TV system that allows for content control.

LG's 2012 G2 Google TV, showing the Play Store with the current Honeycomb operating system. Google TV is expected to get upgraded to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean later this year. Sarah Tew/CNET

However, the low-powered, affordable, plug-and-play HDMI Chromecast dongle could be a ferocious hit. Pre-orders already have had their shipping dates pushed back, and we know that a system update is in the offing. Google demonstrated a feature, currently in beta, which will let you stream any Web page to your TV. This circumvents the requirement to build a site or app with the Google Cast SDK, drastically lowering the developer bar while giving end users a cool feature.

That's not to say that the Chromecast is perfect. Among its flaws, it lacks a way to stream local files to your TV, and requires developers to implement the Google Cast SDK into their apps before it will work.

Google appears to be content for right now to pursue a two-pronged strategy for getting the Internet onto your TV. But you don't need the Chromecast's ability to stream in 1,080 pixels to clearly see that just because Google TV's not dead doesn't mean that it has a static-free future.

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