Sony was out in front of the electronics industry with the adoption of Google TV. CEO Howard Stringer highlights their efforts at a Google conference back in May.
Sony was out in front of the electronics industry with the adoption of Google TV. CEO Howard Stringer highlights their efforts at a Google conference back in May. Paul Sakuma/AP
Google is basking in the glow of its successful Android smartphone platform. The same can't be said of Google TV, the search giant's attempt to forge an Internet TV experience that opens up new worlds to the giant HD-flatscreen in your den.
Over the weekend, the NYT reported that Google has asked Toshiba, LG Electronics and Sharp to hold back from introducing their Google TV devices at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month. The Times says that Google wants to refine its software, which has "received a lukewarm reception."
The Google TV platform is already available from Sony and Logitech. The Times says that Samsung will still unveil Google TV devices at CES.
Reviews have faulted Google TV for being complicated. The always equanimous Walt Mossberg had this to say in his review of Google TV:
Also confusing is Google TV’s home screen, which has overlapping categories. For instance, there is a Queue, for some of your favorite podcasts and sites, and a Bookmarks for others. There is an Applications menu that takes you to specially designed apps that spare you from navigating the regular Web, such as the Netflix video service or Pandora Radio. But there is also a Spotlight category that has customized, simplified websites that, to an average user, amount to the same thing. And, so far, you can only search for the names of most applications, not any content they contain.
Not only is it lacking a certain ease of use, it has also been blocked from accessing the Web content of ABC, NBC, CBS and Hulu.
While Google isn't saying what it plans to do to address Google TV's problems, Janko Roettgers at GigaOm has outlined "5 Ways to Save Google TV." Step number 1 is "simplicity." But it's step number 4, advising Google to be a "disrupter" and not an "appeaser," that will resonate with people looking for a new big-screen experience:
This is a biggie. Google TV is all about enhancing your pay TV experience, and as a resultthe company has ignored cord cutters. Instead, it’s tried hard to play nice with broadcasters, only to see nearly all major networks block Google TV devices from accessing catchup episodes online.
Well, guess what: Google hasn’t gotten where it is now by appeasing, but by disrupting. And from GMail to Google Voice to Google Docs, undercutting other company’s price points has always been a big part of this strategy. So why not offer TV for free? Here’s what Google should do, together with one of its hardware partners: Develop a DVR capable of recording over-the-air HD programming as well as accessing the web, and then offer the monthly service for free. A product like this might put Sezmi out of business and accelerate TiVo’s demise, and it would help people to understand why they need to invest $300 in a Google TV box when Apple TV goes for $99.