Tag Archives | Google TV

Google TV Lives!

A year ago, the first devices based on Google TV–Logitech’s Revue box and some Sony TVs–debuted. Initial irrational exuberance over for the platform melted away quickly: The software was buggy and confusing, and major media companies such as the big networks started blocking Google TV from streaming their content.

And then everybody sort of forgot about Google TV for the most part. Google occasionally said that it was working on an improved version, but the platform made news most recently when Logitech said that the Revue’s sales had been catastrophically bad. I began to worry the Google TV wouldn’t make the cut of arrows that Google wanted to put wood behind.

Now Google is talking about Google TV again. Rather than hyping expectations, the company is taking an intentionally subdued approach–its blog post is titled merely “An Update on Google TV,” which sounds at first like it might be a warning that it’s winding down. But the news is good: Sony TVs will be getting the new version early next week, and the Revue will get it soon thereafter. (There apparently won’t be any new Google TV devices until 2012.)

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Some Slightly Better News on Google TV

Last week, there was much discussion on the Web of one specific tidbit from Logitech’s dismal first-quarter financial results: more of the company’s Revue Google TV boxes were returned to Logitech than got sold.

Logitech has issued a press alert with a few notes:

  • The Revue price reduction to $99–it was originally $249–goes into effect today.
  • “Google TV 2” is “expected” to come out this Summer. (Google hasn’t said much at all about it so far–the platform was barely mentioned in the keynotes at May’s Google IO conference.)
  • Logitech wants to be sure that people understand that the Revue’s “negative sales” didn’t mean that more consumers were returning the boxes that buying them. Consumer returns, the company says, were comparable to those of other products. “Negative sales” means that more distributors and retailers were returning unsold units than buying additional ones. (In other words, it wasn’t that people have been trying and disliking Google TV–they haven’t been interested enough in the idea to buy it, period.)

I still think that the concept of Google TV has promise. But at this point, its future is entirely dependent on version 2 being more usable and less buggy than the original, with more big-name content that doesn’t get blocked by the big media companies that own it.  And if version 2 turns out to be a disappointment, I suspect that Google TV will end up not being one of the arrows that Google chooses to put wood behind.


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How Google TV Can Be Saved

Logitech is taking a beating for throwing early support behind Google TV. The company announced that it will cut the price of its Logitech Revue Google TV box to $99, which means each unit will be sold at a loss. And just in case there was any question of whether Google TV was a flop, Logitech offered an embarrassing statistic: The Revue saw more returns than sales last quarter.

This isn’t the end of Google TV. Google plans to revamp the software this summer with an interface based on Android Honeycomb, with access to the Android Market. But to make Google TV a living room powerhouse, Google and its hardware partners need to learn a few lessons from the first generation’s flop.

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Bad Revue: Logitech’s Google TV Box Suffers From “Negative Sales”

How is Logitech’s Revue–the first stand-alone Google TV box–selling? Logitech says sales are “slightly negative.” As in, more Revue boxes are coming back to Logitech than are being bought and used by consumers. I feel the company’s pain, but I’m not surprised by the bad news. I like the idea of Google TV, but when I tried the Revue last October, I found its software horrifically rough around the edges, to the point that it was no fun at all. Logitech has knocked the price down from $249 to $99, but a shaky product is a shaky product no matter what the price is.

As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out, the Revue is an example of a trend I cover in my new TIME.com Technologizer column: products which ship even though they’re clearly not ready to ship. I don’t know the Revue’s backstory–and tend to think that Logitech may have been as surprised by anyone at how iffy the Google TV software is. But reviewers like me and early adopters who bought the Revue found it lacking, and told other people. Is there any way that Google TV’s chances at success wouldn’t have been a lot higher if Google had finished it six months or a year later and invested the extra time in creating something that pundits and real people would have loved?

 


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Google TV Will Get a Reboot

Harry’s hopes that Google TV may be salvageable might be realized: Mobilized’s Ina Fried reports that the search company has learned from its mistakes, and will make some changes. The second incarnation of the product will be targeted as an “add-on” to TV in its traditional form, not as a replacement as some thought it was intended to be.

Of course, this whole Internet-television convergence thing is still in its infancy, and there’s a lot of work to be done before somebody gets it right. New apps are on the way, as well as more powerful hardware — with a focus on what TV won’t or can’t provide.

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Is Google TV Salvageable? I Think So. I Hope So, Anyhow!

Logitech announced its financial results yesterday, and among the factoids it released was this: It sold $5 million’s worth of its Google TV-powered Logitech Revue box rather than the $18 million it expected to move.

I found Google TV so disappointing in its initial incarnation that I’m not the least bit surprised that consumers are staying away in droves. And I’m curious how a smart company liked Logitech, which usually makes very good products, misjudged it so badly—maybe the platform that Google described to it in the planning stages was better than the one that shipped.

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Google TV: Better Later Than Sooner

Ashlee Vance and Claire Cain Miller are reporting that Google is asking hardware companies to delay announcing Google TV products until it can refine the software, which has received iffy reviews. Sounds liked a good idea to me.


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Google TV Gets an Update

Google is rolling out the first major update to its ambitious, interesting, flawed Google TV platform. Among the improvements: the ability to search in Netflix, the power to move the Dual View picture-in-picture window around so it doesn’t block things, and an Android app that serves as a Google TV remote control.


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The Curse of Beta Hardware

[NOTE: Here’s the lead story from last week’s Technologizer’s T-Week newsletter–go here to sign up to receive it each Friday. You’ll get original stuff that won’t show up on the site until later, if at all.]

Once upon a time, everybody agreed that the fact a product was in beta testing meant that it wasn’t yet ready for prime time. When I started writing about technology back in the early 1990s, pre-release versions of applications never got anything approaching mass distribution; I remember acquiring a beta copy of Windows 95, as a member of the press, and feeling extraordinarily privileged.

But times changed–and so did the role of betas. The Internet made distributing prerelease software cheap and easy, so many companies began releasing applications widely. Today, if you’re curious about an upcoming version of a program, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to download a beta and try it for free. (With stuff like Web browsers, life without widespread betas is nearly unimaginable.)

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Cutting the Cable-TV Cord? Maybe Some Day

Cord cutting–getting rid of cable or satellite TV–is the buzzword du jour in the TV and electronics industries. Pundits have proclaimed TV dead, or at least dying00going the way of the recording industry, which went from pricey CDs to cheaper downloads and now to mostly-free streaming.

That was the juiciest topic last Friday at New York University during the Future of Television Conference, a gathering of TV brass such as the CEO’s of Showtime and Univision, senior executives from MTV Networks, Discovery, and Yahoo, and founders of Internet video startups. The subject also permeated Pepcom’s Wine, Dine & Demo  tech show the night before, where about a half-dozen Internet-to-TV products were being shown.

The conclusion, at least to this reporter, is that cord cutting is about as real now as growing new organs in vats. Consumers will do it–but they won’t do it in droves just yet.

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