The ultimate merger of portable and home-based entertainment, with no distinction between them, took a step closer to completion earlier this week with the introduction of Google TV 2.0, which now brings the Android apps store to the TV screen. Available on Sony TVs and in the standalone Logitech Revue set top box, Google has now managed to achieve what neither Apple nor any of Google’s lesser rivals like Yahoo have achieved: A single applications marketplace transcending the most commonly used consumer screen technologies.
While Apple — for years — has been widely rumored to be “on the verge” of introducing their own branded television, the wait continues. And the Apple TV set top box has never been integrated into anyone else’s television, and remains one of Apples’ weaker products, at least as far as sales are concerned.
Apple still has more than twice as many apps than Google — roughly half a million for Apple, versus 200,000 for Android. And Google TV has yet to expand its traction among TV manufacturers. But clearly the battle lines are drawn.
Android developers have been working on TV applications since August (see Android developers can start writing Google TV apps on CNET.) The transition from Google TV to version 2.0 will take place through a software upgrade to existing hardware.
With applications that can run on smartphones, tablets, netbooks and on TV sets, that leaves just one last screen to conquer: The PC. And then, when apps run not just on phones that are also computers, and HDTVs that are also computers, they can run on computers that actually are computers. And perhaps, if that day ever comes, we can stop calling them apps and call them programs (again)!