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from the L.A. Times

Google buys SageTV in move likely meant to beef up Google TV

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Google has acquired SageTV, an Inglewood-based company that makes both DVR technology and streaming-video software for PCs running Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple Mac OS X.

The tech giant hasn't yet said exactly what it plans to do with SageTV or how much it paid for the company. But, a Google spokeswoman said the company was looking forward to taking SageTV's media management software and technology "to the next level."

The deal is seen as a move to improve Google TV, the Mountain View, Calif., firm's software that allows users to search and find video in their TV listings, DVRs and from the Internet, including sites such as Google-owned YouTube.

So far Google TV has failed to catch on with consumers, and it hasn't been met with much excitement from developers, TV makers or networks either.

One item SageTV offers that Google TV doesn't yet have is the company's Placeshifter software, which lets users watch TV (live or recorded to a DVR) over a high-speed Internet connection on another screen (such as a laptop or a second TV set).

Placeshifter is a similar product to the more-popular Slingbox and SlingPlayer software from Sling Media, which streams video to TVs, computers and even the Apple iPad.

Sling Media is building a version of SlingPlayer for Google TV and other Internet-connected TVs, but Placeshifter could allow Google to build in such functionality without having to rely on outside companies.

Google may also be looking to beef up its cloud services related to video and TV in an ongoing cloud computing arms race against rivals Apple, Amazon and (on the business end) Microsoft.

All three companies now offer cloud services for music libraries, but video and TV services aren't as fleshed out yet.

Rakesh Agrawal, who founded and runs SnapStream, which at one-time competed with SageTV and is now a TV-search challenger to Google TV, said in a blog post that he thought the purchase could be a step toward adding native DVR features. The technology blog GigaOm dismissed that notion on Monday, arguing that "this will be Google TV's take on TV Everywhere -- and it will add features to the device that will make Apple and others look weak in comparison."

SageTV announced the Google takeover on Saturday in a message on its website.

"Since 2002, we've worked to change the TV viewing experience by building cutting-edge software and technology that allows you to create and control your media center from multiple devices," SageTV said in its statement. "And as the media landscape continues to evolve, we think it's time our vision of entertainment management grows as well. By teaming up with Google, we believe our ideas will reach an even larger audience of users worldwide on many different products, platforms and services."

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 -- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Google TV, running from a Logitech Revue set-top box, on a Samsung TV. Credit: Brian Bilek via Flickr.

 
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