Is TV One of Google's Science Projects?

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Maybe Google TV is more like one of the Internet giant’s experimental projects than a regular business venture. The TV-plus-Web effort does seem closer to pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking than a sure-fire revenue generator (see Can Google Be a TV Star?).

When you have $10.7 billion in cash, as Google did as of June 30, you can fling stuff on the wall and see what sticks. Or just do cool experiments in the name of R&D.

Google yesterday said it is investing in a wind farm project off the Eastern Seaboard. The company has taken a 37.5% stake in the $5 billion venture, which could go into service by 2016. “We’re willing to take calculated risks on early stage ideas and projects that can have dramatic impacts while offering attractive returns,” Rick Needham, Google’s green business operations director, wrote in a blog post.

To me, that sounds similar to the long-term potential the company describes for Google TV.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, Google announced a project to develop a system for cars that can drive themselves. So far, the automated cars — outfitted with cameras, radar sensors and laser range-finders but manned by “safety drivers” sitting behind the wheel — have driven 140,000 miles, according to the company.

And don’t forget Google’s “Think Big With a Gig” promo, which elicited submissions from more than 1,100 communities who were falling over themselves to win the promised 1-Gigabit-per-second fiber-to-the-home network sweepstakes (see Just ‘Topeka’ It and Free Fiber Lunch!).

What do you think? Is Google TV a great big test, or something that will represent real revenue growth?

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