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 boxes.
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 market.
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.
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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 entertainment.
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.