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Reviews of early Google TV products, like the Logitech Revue set-top box have been mixed.  (Source: Cult of Mac)

Despite Google forcing Toshiba, LG, and Sharp to delay their unanounced Google TV products, Samsung will soon release its Google-powered SmartTV, as previously promised.  (Source: On CE)

Google recently released an Android smart phone update that allows people to use their phone as a remote for Google TV, eschewing the bundled pointer and keyboard.  (Source: Google via YouTube)
Poor reception is partly thanks to TV providers' successful efforts to block the OS

Google's Android operating system has reportedly put its bid to conquer the world of television on hold.  At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show Toshiba, LG Electronics and Sharp planned to wow visitors with a portfolio of products powered by Google TV, the Android distribution Google cooked up for the television industry.  Now those plans have evaporated.

According to The New York Times, Google is pulling the broader launch of its new platform, as it felt the system wasn't giving users the best experience.

I.  Mo Internet, Mo Problems

In an effort to improve its experience, Google released a number of upgrades last week, according to the project's blog.  Google added many long-promised abilities, including the ability to use Android phones as a remote control; the ability to move and resize website and video windows when in "Dual View" mode; a Netflix app with special features; and a new search engine extension that displays appropriate Amazon Video on Demand and Netflix video options, when searching for movies, plus pertinent results like photos and cast information.

The ability to resize video windows in particular was important, as it fixed one of the early annoyances with the system, which saw the video window covering important messages.

In addition to further tweaking its interface to improve mobile search, Google is also planning to add Google Marketplace access to the sets, allowing users to download third party apps.  In this sense Google TV could serve as a poor man's gaming console, of sorts, and offer crude productivity software.

The biggest headache for Google, though, is the coalition of Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, Viacom, and Hulu, who have banned together to block Google TVs from accessing their library of online videos.  None of these providers have offered a clear or legitimate reason as to why they are blocking access.  Ultimately, it seems a ploy to force Google or its customers to pay access fees, though.

II.  Google TV's Revised Plan

While the greater GoogleTV launch has been shelved, Samsung will still go ahead and release new SmartTV models featuring Android.  Like Sony's Internet TV, Samsung's models will feature Intel Atom processors.  They also feature a licensed SGX535 GPU core, which is licensed by Intel as part of its "Sodaville" platform.  The SGX core is engineered by PowerVR, a division of Imagination Technologies.

Samsung hasn't announced the price of its offerings, but it will likely be in line with Sony's models, which run for $600 USD for a 24-inch HD flat-screen unit to $1,400 USD for a 46-inch flat screen.

Sony also currently offers a Google TV-sporting Blu-Ray player which retails for $400 USD.  Partner Logitech also offers the Logitech Revue, a Google TV set-top box option, which is currently selling for $250 USD.

So far reviews on Amazon have been mixed.  Self-proclaimed "gadgets geek" J. Ruppenthal declares:
First, you should know that I'm a gadget/tech hound. I've had everything there is out there, from Amiga to Zenith. Remember the WebTV? I had one some 15 years ago. I bring that up because, frankly, I don't see much difference between that failed attempt at bringing the "web" (as it was called then) to TV and Google's latest try. Sure, the graphics are fancier and, yes, there will eventually be more you can do with Google TV, but for now, it's a disaster.
Frankly, I'm tired of being a beta-tester for the latest tech. I'll wait for v2 and rethink a purchase. I recommend you do the same.
But "D. Politis", another commenter responds:
He wasn't too impressed with accessing the Internet from the TV. Well, that was the main point of Google TV. I hardly find Google TV a disaster. Is it complete? No, but Google indicated that things like the marketplace would not be available until later.
From the sounds of things, you should not be an early adopter of things. The initial release of anything is always incomplete. Did the iPhone come released with the AppStore? But eventually it did. Google TV will only get better and still does things no other device can do.
Most of the other reviews fall into one of these two denominations -- those who are praising Google's ambition and preaching patience, and those that are fed up and frustrated.  Google clearly hopes to eliminate the latter category with its delay, but some may just end up perceiving that delay as a sign of weakness.

III.  Grumbles From the Trenches

Even if Google can survive public criticism, though, it must also shore up its communications with partners.   James L. McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester, in an interview with The New York Times says that Google didn't communicate the delay until the last minute, creating a mess of its partners' CES plans.  He states, "Google as a company is not a particularly partner-friendly or partner-focused company."

Those partners, for the most part, don't sound overly happy about that development, but for now are practicing patience.  Jeff Barney, the vice president of Toshiba’s digital products division comments, "We will not be announcing a Toshiba TV or Blu-ray player or demonstrating the products at C.E.S.  We have an understanding with Google about the future product roadmap and will bring the right product out at the right timeframe."

If Google doesn't do a better job in the future, though, to communicate its roadmap and jointly plan any delays, it may find that patience wearing thin, though, say analysts like Mr. Barney.

Comments     Threshold

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Google needs to get a clue...
By cochy on 12/20/2010 1:44:13 PM , Rating: -1
On how to launch products. They never learn. The Nexus One launch was a disaster because they didn't get the carriers (Verizon et all.) on board at the start and were then left with a no win situation.

One would think that Google should have formed alliances with content provided like NBC, Fox etc a long time ago. Nope.

Google has no clue how to market products, launch products and make products consumer friendly. They are a 100% engineer driven company and it shows. This is a big weakness that should be addressed.

Just look at Google Wave. You needed to be an engineer just to understand and appreciate that mess.

Google Buzz? Same problem.

Basically Search, Google Maps and Gmail are the only examples of Google built products that are very well received. YouTube and Android were purchases, not 100% in house engineered.

My confidence is not high for any Google project.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By cochy on 12/20/2010 1:48:25 PM , Rating: 3
Oh yah.

Chrome OS? Probably will be DOA.

We'll need to wait and see but confidence not high.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By Ammohunt on 12/20/2010 2:53:55 PM , Rating: 2
Just like Developers who think the are Systems Administrators they must think they are market products too.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By eggman on 12/20/2010 3:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
Google Chrome is a good browser and it has an impressive slice of the market and an even more impressive development cycle.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By B3an on 12/20/2010 4:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
Chrome development cycle is certainly not impressive.
From the very first version of Chrome to the latest version 9 dev builds it looks exactly the same.

And if you go in to the options menu it still has very few options/features in there.

Just because version numbers increase quicker than other browsers doesn't mean it's progressing faster. It could be argued that MS have made more major changes in a single browser version, going from IE8 to IE9, than Google have with Chrome since release.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By vol7ron on 12/20/2010 6:05:10 PM , Rating: 1
I didn't realize looking exactly the same was a criteria in better versions.

I'm more concerned with page load times and pages displaying correctly. Did IE improve on this that many times between version 8 and 9? Pretty sure Chrome is one of the fastest JS engines. - We shouldn't have to wait to browse the internet, we should just do it (like Nike).

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By OoklaTheMok on 12/20/2010 7:26:47 PM , Rating: 2
OMG... who cares about the fastest javascript engine, when compatibility is much more important.

It's not hard to be super fast when you ignore the details of actually getting things to work correctly and consistently.

By dark matter on 12/21/2010 2:26:42 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By Aloonatic on 12/21/2010 5:07:21 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the options menu changed quite a bit a couple of releases ago.

As the poster bellow your comment (so presumably above this comment) points out, it's not just about aesthetics, but performance. Personally, I'm glad that they are investing more time rather there than changing how the browser looks, perhaps just for the sake of it so that you can "see" it changing.

Yes, other browsers have changed more, but might have noticed that other browsers have changed their appearance to look a lot more like... Yep, Chrome. Why change what works so well?

How would you change it anyway? They stripped it right back to just tabs and an address bar, with a couple of buttons. Then the rest is up to the designers of the web page that you are browsing at the time which, IMHO, is probably as it should be.

Maybe I'm biased, as I do a lot off my browsing on Celeron powered, 11.6" 1366x768 screen on which Chrome works really well, whilst other browsers are far less fun to use. When on more powerful machines, with bigger screens then I really don't care all that much so I use IE, FF and Chrome, depending on the sites I'm visiting and what have you. They all seem to have their strengths and weaknesses, with their own little gimmicks and quirks.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By LazLong on 12/21/2010 3:05:56 AM , Rating: 1
Perhaps you need to get a clue. Google didn't launch with any large media partners such as NBC, Fox, etc. because the big media conglomerates DON'T want to cooperate with Google. They are afraid of Google. Google owning the space between the viewer/consumer and content would put them in the place of power and able to dictate ad rates, etc. Boxee has had the same problem for the same reasons.

Companies are afraid of Google, for good reason. But products like Boxee and Google TV are where content consumption is going. TV as we know it is on it's way out. Thankfully. The direction it is going was pretty obvious as soon as broadband became ubiquitous. Communication is bandwidth dependent, and doesn't care about the physical medium. We are going to see the same struggle between content aggregators like Google and content providers as we saw during the rise of cable TV. Only the stakes are higher as today's technology looks to depose TV, radio, and print. Lot's of ad dollars to fight over.

On another note, I owned a Logitech Revue for about a week, and I think isn't ready for prime time. It is buggy as hell and it's interface isn't the best. I presume Google was hot to get it out for the 2010 holiday season and pushed it out the door regardless. This, combined with the afore mentioned problems gaining access to content from major media outlets, has put the kibosh on it.

Personally, I think Boxee is a superior product, and Google should just have snapped them up. This would have solved the issues with having a product ready vis-a-vis technical functionality, and allowed them to concentrate on content access.

I don't want Google to win, and I fear they are well on their way to becoming the Microsoft of content. Both entertainment and knowledge. I wonder what percentage of knowledge acquisition today is via Google. Pretty damn powerful position to be in, and something that needs to be paid very, very close attention to by those governments interested in preserving the intellectual freedom of its citizens. Of course that rules out my government. The US has been moving ever closer to fascism since 1980 (Using the original definition of ownership of the state by large, powerful, single interests, most often corporations.) I want competition and choice. Obtaining such requires enforcement of rules that preclude the growth of monopolies, natural or otherwise. My government hasn't been too interested in enforcing existing laws along these lines, let alone enacting and enforcing new ones. Hence our current economic situation, the war in Iraq, and the death of Net Neutrality.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By th3pwn3r on 12/21/2010 9:44:54 AM , Rating: 2
Great post. Maybe others will learn from it, I agree entirely.

RE: Google needs to get a clue...
By Lerianis on 12/21/2010 12:14:39 PM , Rating: 2
Really, Google needs to file a lawsuit. These companies blocking one computerized device from accessing something that another computerized device can access is blatantly illegal in most states and maybe even by federal law.

It's the whole "Tivo" legal dilemma all over again.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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