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June 27, 2008

Google: Find it, then help you watch it

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My friend Steve O’Hear from Last100 has the news that Google has launched its own media-streaming software, called Google Media Server. According to the description at the Inside Google Desktop blog, it’s pretty simple: if you have a networked device that can connect to your TV, then you can watch YouTube videos, look at photos and listen to music (although it’s for Windows only at this point). It’s not surprising that Google would get into this niche — if anything, I find it kind of surprising that they haven’t done it before now.

Getting content from a computer to your TV hasn’t been easy until relatively recently. If you were into Linux you could play around with something like the open-source MythTV.org software, and many people I know — geeks, naturally — modified their Xboxes to act as streaming media servers, while some built their own standalone media boxes. Now most game consoles will serve that function, and there’s the Apple TV and Mac Mini as well, which do the job quite well. And, of course, if you’re really desperate you can always use Windows Media Center :-)

It will be interesting to see how much traction Google gets with its offering — and as Steve points out in his post, this is clearly just a small part of the Web company’s push into the living room.

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