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Google, Apple Among Those Vying for Living Room Media Dominance

The idea of merging the Web and television was so powerful in the late 90s that the U.S. government classified it as a weapon, but the promise has since suffered “years of false-starts and not-quite-there implementations.”

As people spend more and more time consuming digital media, wryly noted here, a certain search-engine giant is hoping its new service will become the breakout tool to fully integrate how the most popular forms are consumed in the home: Web, television, social media, music and more.

Google notes that the television is still the most-ubiquitous screen in the world (even more than mobile phones). With Google TV, the company is “betting that it will transform TV the same way smartphones transformed the telephone.” Here’s a preview of some of the capabilities:

Of course, Google TV also promises to be another inroad for the company to mine user data to help it sell more — and better-targeted — ads:

With this new “device” Google can do what Nielsen could never do. Instead of just tracking TV view habits and coming out with extrapolated data on viewer eyeballs then selling that data, Google would own it. They’d going to be able to push their own ads, sell the rights to broadcast on it, the whole nine yards.

Content partners are slowly emerging for the service. Major broadcast networks haven’t fully signed on to participate in Google TV, but outlets like HBO and Netflix are on board.

Google will have plenty of competition for control of home media consumption. Aside from video game consoles, Mashable has a breakdown of the features of the new Apple TV, the forthcoming Boxee Box and the Roku XDS, declaring “The battle for the living room is finally here.”

While the latest incarnation of Apple TV received some lukewarm reviews over its limitations, Apple has at least five “secret weapons” going for it as it seeks to out-maneuver Google and other competitors for control of the living room.

Will the digital living room finally catch on this time around with Google, Apple and other established heavyweights involved? Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader told Forbes that the competition is refreshing, but it is unclear if tech companies will see a payoff:

“The digital living room is a lot like Afghanistan. Some superpower tries to take it over and set it straight, but the people don’t want to be taken over,” says Fader. “It’s a very slow evolution to the digital living room.”

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