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Google TV is failing like the Apple TV before it. While more ambitious, the current generation Google TV has a sloppy interface and no third-party apps. To make matters worse, TV broadcasters have blocked it from accessing online episodes.

Google plans on releasing the next version of Google TV at its Google I/O developers conference next month. It hopes the new version does not follow in the woeful sales path of the first generation.  (Source: Ubergizmo)
People apparently aren't quite ready for the wonders of Android television

Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) first generation Apple TV was infamous as the only high profile modern Apple hardware product to flat out fail to catch on.  Now Apple's smartphone rival Google Inc.'s (GOOG) own television offering is running into problems of its own.

Unlike Apple TV, Google TV tried to do much more.  Where as Apple TV acted essentially as a streaming video and media storage device alone, Google added a smattering of apps and internet access.  Partnering with Sony Corp. (6758) and Logitech International SA (LOGI), it put out its first hardware in October 2010.

But the product has languished due to several factors.

First, it was a rush job and Google did take the time to implement third-party apps.  Second, the quick release led to an interface that while almost deep and intuitive suffered from frustrating bugs.

Last, but not least, late last year Google waged a high profile war with network television companies.  Afraid that customers would abandon more lucrative broadcast television to watch their shows exclusively online, the broadcasters figured out a way to block Google TV sets from accessing their TV episodes online.

This was a seemingly baffling stance -- after all the broadcasters put them there in the first place.  But most agree it was a move made out of fear -- online advertising still sells for less than broadcast ads during a primetime TV show.  

And it worked.  Google was unable to restore access or talk TV broadcasters into re-allowing its devices.  

Faced with essentially a crippled system with no third-party apps, few TV shows, and a buggy interface, Google TV was unsurprisingly met with disinterest or even scorn from many customers.

But the depth of how far Google TV sunk is just now becoming apparent.  Logitech's set-top Google TV box Revue and its peripherals only earned $5M USD in the first three months of the year, according to its just released earnings report [PDF].

Taking into consideration that the product retails for $299, which would mean approximately 16,700 sales, if all the revenue was towards the box exclusively.  Factoring in that peripheral sales provided part of that revenue, it's likely that actual sales were closer to 15,000 units.

Logitech had sold $22M USD worth of Google TV product in the last three months of last year (approximately 70k units) and hoped to sell $18M USD in this quarter.

Instead it missed its target by 70 percent and saw inventory of Revues soar 28 percent.  That comes despite a 19 percent increase in the marketing budget to try to push Google TV.

As a result of the failure of Google TV, Logitech, much like Apple, is keeping its product, but transitioning it to life support.  It is scaling back its advertising and production.  It claims[PDF] it is "fully prepared to re-accelerate those activities at the appropriate time."  And CEO Gerald P. Quindlen loyally stated that his company remains "enthusiastic about Google TV."

Google's last-ditch effort to save the floundering product may come next month at the Google I/O conference for developers.  Google's equivalent of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference(WWDC), the I/O Conference is often a platform for high profile Android news.  Reportedly Google will air new Google TV products, this time with a streamlined interface and access to third party apps (in effect transforming the products into low-end gaming consoles of sorts, for one thing).

It remains to be seen if this latest bid succeeds where past efforts by Google and Apple have failed.

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no audience
By superPC on 4/29/2011 11:11:41 AM , Rating: 3
i think it's rather hard to find a consumer for this kind of device. people that want to do a whole lot of streaming and other web connected services with their TV already build a media center pc. the rest of media consumer feel regular TV is already more than enough (or maybe a web connected TV -like Samsung internet TV- is just good enough). google TV is some sort of a middle ground. more capable than an internet TV but less capable than a HTPC. in the end it has no audience.

RE: no audience
By fic2 on 4/29/2011 12:50:07 PM , Rating: 2
Most of my friends that do streaming have a roku or similar. I think those are about 1/3 the cost of this. A lot of friends also do streaming netflix through one of the many devices that has a netflix app.

Also, tv execs are idiots. Their stance is basically, "we don't want people viewing our tv programs from sources that aren't from us so we are going to block our source and force them to watch it from another source".

RE: no audience
By Smilin on 4/29/11, Rating: -1
RE: no audience
By sprockkets on 4/29/2011 1:56:56 PM , Rating: 5
Instead they did what Google always does: Steal first, ask permission later, then claim "we're making information free and open to everyone, you should thank us!"

So I guess I'm "stealing" tv when I watch it on my computer via HDMI on a big screen from their own legit website, right?

Please, keep your mouth shut if you don't know what you are talking about.

RE: no audience
By ekv on 4/30/2011 1:02:44 AM , Rating: 2
I likely agree with your technical assessment. Of course, it can be problematic trying to account for what a competitor will do (in reaction to your product development). How can it be "stealing" right? But then try to account for TV execs....

For long, Microsoft was the fair-haired kid going up against, i.e. dancing around, the 1000-lb bear named IBM. Then Microsoft took on that mantle. Hence, an open question as to whether Google is beginning to experience what Microsoft has gone through?

RE: no audience
By Motoman on 4/30/2011 3:13:40 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. The TV networks post the shows on their own sites - all Google TV was showing you what the TV networks had already posted.

Any claim of theft is catastrophically moronic.

...just as any attempt to block any legitimate would-be viewers of your shows is moronic. You make money on the ads you or not. More people viewing your shows online (whether by Google TV or something else) means more revenue for you. There isn't the slightest basis for any assertion that people will watch those shows during broadcast instead...because they may conflict with other shows the want to watch, or may be shown at times they can't watch them, etc. It's pure loss across the board for the TV networks. Which is sad. Not surprising...but sad.

RE: no audience
By messele on 5/2/2011 2:41:50 AM , Rating: 2
When the TV networks show these things on their own websites surely they are also showing adverts, the revenue from which pays to allow you to watch their show for free.

All Google are doing is taking what is not their, presumably serving up their own advertising that they alone are profiting from then pumping it through to their boxes.

The content does not belong to Google, they do not have permission to use it and certainly not to deny the owners money for viewing it. Reads an awful lot like theft to me.

RE: no audience
By Motoman on 5/2/2011 1:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
No, it appears to me that Google is showing the show to it's users as they stream from the TV network's own websites - including the TV network's ads.

Unless you can prove differently.

So did Apple?
By Souka on 4/29/2011 11:49:00 AM , Rating: 2
So did the Apple TV also face the blocking by the networks that Google TV did?

If not, why not?

RE: So did Apple?
By fic2 on 4/29/2011 12:52:11 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think Apple TV even had the ability to view content from anything other than the apple store. That was the reason it failed. Anyone who bought one bought it to hack.

RE: So did Apple?
By KoolAidMan1 on 4/30/2011 3:43:59 AM , Rating: 2
The new one can watch Netflix and a few of the sports networks (MLB, NHL). Between that and the $100 price it is finally selling.

XBMC for the new AppleTV is pretty great, biggest reason to get one at the moment.

RE: So did Apple?
By snakeInTheGrass on 5/2/2011 10:07:04 AM , Rating: 2
You can tell it's a Mick article when it mentions the Google version of something selling 15,000 units and then just throws in that it's failing like AppleTV did. Uh... I thought the new one in particular had sold something like 2 million since it came out, which implies significantly > 15,000 sales per quarter.

To be fair, the in-article quote refers to the first generation device, but frankly even that was likely a better seller, and of course the higher sales of the new device are not mentioned.

It's still not (currently) succeeding like the iPhone / iPad in raw quantity, but it's certainly ahead of its competition, almost certainly a net revenue generator, not to mention that if Apple updates it with the newer dual-core and faster graphics and puts content on an AppleTV App Store that they'll have a trojan into the living room media/gaming scene that will once again have a real shot at dominating a market segment.

RE: So did Apple?
By michael2k on 4/29/2011 8:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
Google TV used Flash, and therefore tried to access the whole web.

Apple TV did not, and therefore could not; this act means networks and content was added per network's desire, and not out of their control. Therefore Apple TV was successfully able to add (after Apple negotiated it of course) Netflix, YouTube, MLB and NBA, and everything available from iTunes.

My guess is they will continue to negotiate content at a pace that will comfort the networks (maybe some Hulu, or NASCAR, or whatever), while Google's wild west approach will keep scaring content off.

RE: So did Apple?
By Motoman on 5/1/2011 11:53:15 AM , Rating: 2
"Wild West" approach? Really?

...because hooking your PC up to your TV gives you the same unbridled internet access. Google wasn't doing anything strange from an access standpoint...they just took a PC and ripped out everything but the browser.

For that matter, I can use Opera on my Wii and get access to the entire internet in the same way. Not in HD, of course, which is a limitation of the Wii itself...but still. Same thing.

RE: So did Apple?
By michael2k on 5/2/2011 11:53:11 AM , Rating: 2
How many people hook up PCs to their TVs?

That's the problem, really. So until that becomes the norm, Google TV is actually perceived differently because the majority of people are not in fact browsing the web from their living room couch (iPads and AppleTVs excepted).

So what you're really saying is that it's exactly the same except no one is doing it.

RE: So did Apple?
By Motoman on 5/2/2011 1:16:00 PM , Rating: 2
Game consoles have web browsers. Done.

This made things confusing
By spazze on 4/29/2011 11:37:27 AM , Rating: 2
First, it was a rush job and Google did take the time to implement third-party apps.

Faced essentially a crippled system with no third-party apps,

I'm guessing the second quote is correct, and the first one is not?

RE: This made things confusing
By jbartabas on 4/29/11, Rating: 0
GoogleTV is dead as a stand alone
By OnyxNite on 4/29/2011 2:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
It is my understanding from the various rumor sites that GoogleTV will be merged into Android as part of the upcoming Ice Cream release.

By Lazarus Dark on 4/29/2011 6:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
That said, I don't want to buy exlusive hardware. I want to build my own htpc, like I always do, and put android on it, BUT, bluray playback is a necessity in my home theater, along with every codec under the sun. So until they can give me this, I'm stuck with windows.

By rburnham on 4/30/2011 2:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
This is the first time I have heard of the device, so maybe getting the word out is a problem. It looks pretty neat though. I have a Windows 7 HTPC in the house. Having a smaller secondary device that could be used to stream media from the main server would be pretty nice.

By VooDooAddict on 4/30/2011 4:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
People are loving the Netflix and Amazon enabled TVs. This is one of those things that's a great feature to add to another type of appliance that people buy in bulk from best buy. TVs or Blueray/DVD players. A separate box sold and marketed specifically for this is simply ignored by most people.

By JakLee on 4/30/2011 11:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
My brother in law has one of these, its really not any better or worse than an HTPC, I don't really think its worth it.

By Azethoth on 5/3/2011 4:27:51 PM , Rating: 2
"But most agree it was a move made out of fear -- online advertising still sells for less than broadcast ads during a primetime TV show."

It is right there in the article. They would lose money if cheap streaming revenue cannibalizes profitable broadcast revenue.

Whining about how you can stream from their sites is not relevant. Until they can get the same revenue from streaming as from broadcast this is just not going to happen except in small experiments.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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