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Android Person of the Year Nominee: Rishi Chandra

December 24, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

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Rishi Chandra
Google, Lead Product Manager for Google TV
Nominated because: He heads-up Google’s effort to bring the web – and Android – to TV

Google TV is the future! Google TV is WebTV! Google TV is a flop! The latest innovation from Google was called mesmerizing, a rehashed concept, and a pre-determined failure within 20 minutes of its unveiling. And while GTV is still inching towards the Google Product Graveyard, there’s a fighting chance that the product could be turned around before it’s too late.

Rishi Chandra is the person tasked with that job. It was Chandra, lead product manager for Google TV, who stood on stage at Google I/O as the world got its first glimpse of a platform that promised to unite television and the web. GTV sought to be a marriage of worlds – the millions of hours of web video and on-demand services mingling with traditional broadcast television – to create an entertainment powerhouse.

Chandra and company did an admirable job of making it easier to search for content and find media sources in one place. But the vision for the Android-based product took quite a hit when networks began blocking Google TV devices from accessing their content. All of the major broadcast networks, then Hulu, and even cable channel owners like Viacom decided that consumer convenience was not a good enough reason to risk the cash that pours in through the traditional broadcast model. That meant Google TV had to go.

Google TV is a disruptive force that reminds people that Android is no longer a phone OS. The base operating system that powers your phone can also be used for your tablets, netbooks, ereaders, microwaves, car systems, and even televisions. Chandra helped consumers see the promise of the interconnected lifestyle that can be achieved through Android. He introduced innovative ways to watch and control YouTube, built remote applications for Android, and forged critical partnerships with companies like Amazon and Netflix who recognize the promise that GTV represents rather than the peril. There are now thousands of developers re-tooling websites to better interact with larger screens, which has reignited the long-abandoned push for consuming web content on television.

Sales of the Logitech Revue set-top box and Sony Internet TV’s, the first wave of Google TV products, have not been released. However, it’s safe to say that GTV is not a runaway success by anyone’s measure. But enough devices have been sold and used for consumers to recognize that Google just may be onto something.

Rishi Chandra has helped change the way we watch television, and he has a long road to travel to make sure we don’t go back to the old ways of TV Guide and channel surfing. Even without network support in 2011, Google TV has promise that must be fulfilled before its window of opportunity closes. Chandra has done more than enough this year for Person of the Year consideration. Let’s hope we can say the same for next year.

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This article is part of a series of profiles on the people who most-impacted Android in 2010. Read more about the Android Person of the Year series here.