Google hasn’t forgotten about its Google TV smart TV platform, although Eric Schmidt’s prediction that most TVs would come with Google TV software by mid year didn’t come true. Google is purportedly planing to release a big update for Google TV at I/O this week. The last update was based on Honeycomb 3.1, which arrived last fall, so we might see a version based on Android 4.0 or even Android 4.1 this time (it would be nice if they synced them).
The rumored features for this new update include the unification of live TV listings with Netflix and DVR content, so when you want to watch a certain show, you can just search for it and watch it, either from a local cable source or from the Internet. This is one of the main features that Google promised a long time ago, but they didn’t get enough content deals at the time to implement it. Other features include the ability to stream from your Android 4.0 devices to your Google TV and an improved way for developers to make apps for Google TV.
Google has been trying to push Google TV for two years now, without much success so far. Granted, trying to revolutionize the TV market is a very hard task, and one that many have tried to tackle over the past decade or so, only to fail miserably. But Google does share some of the fault, making some big mistakes that are explainable when you consider its lack of experience in the consumer electronics market.
The initial pricing of $300 was one of the major reasons why the platform failed to gain momentum in the beginning, and why Logitech lost a lot of money on the Revue set top box. At a time when the most expensive set top boxes, like the Boxee Box, cost $200, and the mid-range cost around $100, the Revue started at $300. Moreover, the first Google TVs offered little value for the money in terms of hardware, and, even worse, the initial content offering wasn’t that great either.
The fact is you can’t just price a set top box like a gaming console, not that Google TV actually had access to the Android Market at the time. In fact, it didn’t have access to Google’s Play Store until very recently, and I can only assume that was because they used Intel hardware initially, which made Android apps incompatible. This of course was another major mistake on Google’s part — using Intel hardware, which made them waste two years of momentum.
ARM hardware is finally coming in the latest iterations of Google TV and the latest hardware from Sony (available July 22nd for $199) and others, so hopefully there will be more apps coming to the platform, soon. But Google needs to avoid the blunder it did with Android tablets, by not pushing developers to make apps for the platform. If the rumors about encouraging developers to make Google TV apps are true, maybe they’ve learned their lesson well.