The future of television, according to Google

The future of television, according to Google

Google is increasingly interested in building an alternative to the traditional cable set-top box, according to a top exec for Google Fiber.

Milo Medin, vice president of access services at Google, predicts that the Internet giant’s own platform for smart televisions, Android TV, will “eventually build something” that allows consumers to abandon the black, bulky boxes that many currently rent from their cable providers.

“We have talked to folks inside who are now getting interested in it,” Medin told reporters at a Washington conference Wednesday.

If it moves ahead, Google’s entry into the market for cable boxes would mark another turning point for America’s rapidly changing media landscape as cord-cutting, skinny bundles and mobile devices give Americans all new ways to view high-quality shows.

Medin has an even more expansive view of what the future of television may hold. The former NASA engineer sees not only Google, Apple and Amazon offering their own devices that can deliver all your cable channels, but an explosion of new competition among TV manufacturers who will be able to connect their smart televisions directly to your cable connection.

“If you can integrate, if you can provide extra functionality and search across these things, and give TV vendors a chance to differentiate from each other and really unlock innovation, I think it’s a huge opportunity for those guys,” he said. “Because what’s the difference right now between buying a Samsung or a Sony or a Vizio?”

Baking the cable box’s functionality directly into a television could even kill off the set-top box entirely.

“When you see what’s possible in set-top boxes, people go ‘Well, why can’t I have that?’ That’s very powerful. And I think the answer is, there’s no reason why you can’t have that,” he said.

Google has no immediate plans to develop a cable box, Medin said. But the catalyst for Google’s interest can be traced to a looming government proposal to crack open the market for set-top boxes. The Federal Communications Commission’s forthcoming plan would force cable companies to relinquish some control over how cable content is displayed on your TV.

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