Monday Dec 27th 2010
News Analysis: Google TV came on the scene with a lot of promise, but now months after its launch, it doesn't seem to be catching on with consumers.
Google TV was expected to be the search giant's
way to move into consumers' living rooms. The software, which is
currently available on the Logitech Revue set-top box and Sony HDTVs,
allows users to stream content from services such as Netflix over the Web,
as well as access the Internet and control a DVR. On paper, it's a fine
upgrade over most other software platforms running on set-top
But as 2010 comes to a close, rampant speculation
says Google TV might be failing in a big way. In fact, reports claim
that Google has asked companies not to talk about Google TV products at CES.
In addition, reports say that Logitech has been asked by the search
giant to freeze production of its Revue set-top box. Those reports
haven't been confirmed, but given the sheer lack of excitement about
Google TV products so far, it seems more likely than ever that Google
is concerned that its entertainment platform is starting to fail in the
There are good reasons to believe Google TV is failing.
1. Where's the excitement?
When Google TV was first announced,
there was palpable excitement around the United States about the potential the
software offered. It made sense. As mentioned, Google TV offers more
promise on paper than any other solution in the entertainment space.
But now that Google TV devices are on store shelves, all that
excitement seems to have dissipated, causing some to wonder if it's
actually falling flat.
2. The Apple TV influence
The Apple TV was called a "hobby" by Steve Jobs
for years. But on Sept. 1, Apple unveiled a new version of the device
and released it at the end of that month. Recently, Apple said that it
was on its way to selling 1 million Apple TV units. It's not
groundbreaking, but given the popularity of that device, it's quite
possible that consumers might be turning to Apple's option over those
from Sony and Logitech.
3. Consumers know the features aren't there
If there is one thing that the Web has helped
consumers do, it's research. If consumers did their research on Web TV
platforms, many of them likely realized that Google TV is big on
potential, but short on features right now. The software lacks
application support, access to some online programming and much more.
Plus, the Logitech Revue, for example, costs $299, making it quite
expensive for what it's offering. It's a perfect storm that could be
hurting sales in a big way.
4. The apps haven't arrived
When Google first talked about its entertainment platform,
the company said that it would be offering a software development kit
to developers that would allow them to bring entertainment content (and
other goodies) to the Google TV platform. Unfortunately, those apps
won't appear until next year. Maybe if they were available now,
consumers would find more value in the software.
5. Content is king
When it comes to entertainment, content matters
more than anything else. Consumers want to know that they are investing
in a product that will deliver to them the amount and kind of
entertainment that they are really interested in. For now, that's where
Google TV is lacking. It features Netflix, but it still doesn't have
access to Hulu Plus. Moreover, those who want to access video from
network Websites on the Internet can't do so. It's a problem, and it's
hurting Google TV's chances for success.
6. The studios aren't happy
As mentioned, Google TV users aren't able to
access much television content from the Internet. The reason for that
is actually quite simple: networks are blocking Google TV's access to
their shows. That's a problem. Part of the value of Google TV is
surfing the Web and watching content for free on the Internet. If
that's not possible, consumers could go elsewhere to find their
7. There might be truth in the rumors
Until Google confirms that it's asking vendors to halt development
on their Google TV products, there's no telling what's really going on.
But given the issues Google TV suffers from and the success of other
platforms, like the Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes, it just might be
true. If it is, it speaks to the issues Google TV will have to solve if
it is to have any chance for success later on.
8. Google hasn't been so quick to gloat
Like most other companies in the technology
industry, Google enjoys having the ability to tell the world that its
products are performing better than others at retail. But so far with
the Google TV, it hasn't done anything of the sort. In fact, it has
been relatively tight-lipped about its performance, preferring instead
to hope consumers will opt for the platform over time. Now, it should
be noted that Google TV could in fact see stronger sales next year. But
at least so far, Google's relative silence on its entertainment
platform's performance should indicate trouble.
9. Progress has been slow
When Google first announced Google TV, it seemed
that the platform would be making serious advances over what was
currently offered. But when the device first shipped and consumers had
the chance to get their hands on it, they quickly realized that it
wasn't as groundbreaking as they thought. Google hasn't done enough to
change that perception. Until Google pushes the envelope with Google TV, consumers might just ignore the product.
10. Are consumers ready?
Google TV might be the most advanced entertainment
option on paper for the vast majority of consumers around the world,
but that doesn't mean that it will be a guaranteed success. The
content-streaming market, while growing rapidly, is still in its
infancy. And the average mainstream consumer doesn't necessarily know
if they're ready for that change. Over time, the Google TV
platform could be quite worthwhile, but now the question of whether it's ahead of its time must be asked.