GoogleTV – Examining the Evidence

Is this GoogleTV video a hoax? Well, I saw the famed video (below) and noticed the relatively detailed “congratulations” email. I decided to figure out exactly what this email says.

With careful analysis, I have copied the supposed “Congratulations on finding GoogleTV” email text:

From Gmail Team – Received 10:00PM

Congratulations on finding GoogleTV, [his email address]!

With GoogleTV Beta you can now watch streaming television shows at your leisure. We’ve embedded ads that are personally tailored to you and your specific tastes. That’s how we provide free content to you.

Built-in player, keyboard shortcuts, customized suggestions and more. Sound cool? We think so too. Say goodbye to that clunky set in your living room. Welcome to GoogleTV, the future of television.

We hope that this email will help you learn about some of the features that make GoogleTV unique. To get started, you may want to:

  • Watch new episodes of your favorite current [??????]ion shows
  • See what others are watching by navigating the “Most Popular” section
  • Visit our Help Center to learn more about GoogleTV features

As you’re watching GoogleTV, you might notice it functions seamlessly with other Google products. You’ll (sic) can sign up for email alerts when shows become available. We’re designed a fully integrated service. Just for you.

Please keep this email for your records as it contains an important identification code that you may need should you ever encounter problems.

Login to your account at

Enjoy!

The Gmail Team

Verification code [couldn’t decipher]

That’s a pretty wordy and well thought out letter for a portion of the hoax that most people probably wouldn’t even bother to make out in a grainy YouTube clip. Although, there is that typo in the second to last paragraph. And a verification code seems like an odd way to track someone who is already logged into your servers using their Gmail account. Nevertheless, I want to reemphasize that there is an extraordinary amount of well-written details in this congratulatory letter.

According to the comments on this video, it seems to be legit. Users have noted that Google seems to have closed this beta due to the Easter Egg being leaked. One user complained:

too bad they closed it down. i watched the first three episodes of prison break (never saw it on tv). when i came back to my pc and logged in, the site was gone. too bad, the vid was really awesome! does anybody know a way to reactivate it? do i need to do the rollover thing again?!

One interesting thing to note about this new service is that it is not using YouTube’s UI. See the screen shots for what I am referring to.

Here is what Google Video’s interface looks like:

And in comparison, here is from the screen capture:

Clearly, it’s Google Video’s UI, not YouTube’s.

This is a strange because other factors indicated Google was going to focus its video service on YouTube and let Google Video become a search engine for videos. And YouTube finally is beginning to have hosted content from major content producers. Why split the attention of potential users?

Perhaps the intention is to keep YouTube as a clip site full of user submissions and snippets, while GoogleTV will contain nothing but full length shows with embedded ads. This would allow YouTube to remain relatively ad free. Meanwhile, Google Video would take a strong emphasis on being a video search engine. This would allow each product to focus on its niche.

Of course, the most important piece of this entire puzzle comes from this snippet (from above):

We’ve embedded ads that are personally tailored to you and your specific tastes.

Because GoogleTV requires your Google account to use (unlike YouTube), Google is able to leverage everything they know about you to determine what ad to show you. Truly targeted TV ads. They know what you search for, which ads you’ve clicked on, what you write about in your Gmail, what you talk about in your Google Chat, what TV shows you watch, etc. A little scary? Well, that’s what we will all have to come to expect in the future. Well, in this case, the present.

For the first time ever, TV ads will be personally tailored and, most importantly, interactive in that users can click on the ad if they are interested (which also helps Google fine-tune the ads even more!).

If this goes live, I might just cancel my cable subscription.

Is it a hoax? You decide.