Photo: Associated Press
European hardware maker Logitech reported earnings yesterday and they weren’t good, with poor sales across the board. But a striking number highlighted by Giga OM is the sales of their Google TV set-top box Revue: $5 million, far below expectations of $18 million.For comparison, they sold $22 million of them in the previous quarter (admittedly a holiday quarter).
It’s increasingly obvious that the reason you don’t hear so much about Google TV anymore is because it is a dud.
Here’s the most optimistic way to look at this: the TV market was always going to be a very hard nut to crack, even with Google’s cash, market power and ambition. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that there’s no good go-to-market strategy for connected TVs.
But, perhaps more importantly, if Google is serious about TV, it doesn’t really matter what it does this year. Google is a web company after all, and what you do on the web is release a “minimum viable product” and keep improving it and improving it and improving it. Google TV was slammed by critics when it came out for being confusing and not very useful. But, in a way, that’s fine.
The goal is to get the software in the hands of consumers and keep refining it and improving it until it’s great. It’s what Google did with Chrome, which is a runaway success, and it’s what they’re doing with Google Docs, which is an increasingly viable alternative to Microsoft Office with every passing day.
The bear’s case, meanwhile, goes as follows: regular people just don’t care about connected TVs. TVs that behave like internet-connected computers is a geek fantasy, because geeks see a big square screen and think it should behave like their favourite big square screen. But they overlook that even though the two look similar, they’re used very differently: TV is a fundamentally “lean back” experience while computing is fundamentally “lean forward.” They don’t do the same things and you don’t use them for the same things. People have been talking up connected TVs for going on 20 years now (remember CD-i?) and regular folks just, don’t, care about that stuff.
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