Over the weekend Google teased some big announcements were coming to Google TV on Monday, but so far all we have seen is a blog post about a new YouTube udpate that is coming later this week. Many are assuming that the YouTube news was the big announcement, but Google actually made that post Sunday night and they did tease announcements, plural.
Hopefully Google still has some kind of big reveal coming later today, but if they don’t here is my list of three things I would like to see.
1. A new $99 companion device
Where are the new devices? We saw a few products demoed at CES like the LG Smart TV and Marvell set-top box, but none have gone on sale yet. To make matters worse, some of the previous generation of Google TV products have been discontinued and are no longer available in retails stores.
Recent rumors have suggested that Google will get into the hardware business and release their own home entertainment system. People briefed on the company’s plans think Google’s box will stream music and other digital media, and we have our fingers cross that this device somehow integrates with Google TV.
Google recently made the switch to ARM based processors from Intel x86 processors, which should help to reduce the overall cost of devices. When we questioned a Marvell representative at CES about the cost of future Google TV devices they said, “I can tell you it’s going to be a lot cheaper than $300. It will be a very attractive price point.”
We saw the sales of the Logitech Revue really take off when the price was reduced to $99, so hopefully Google and their OEM partners can offer a device somewhere around that price point.
2. Content deals with major networks
After the recent update to Android 3.1, I am really happy with my Logitech Revue. For people that wish to cut the cord, Google TV is about 90% of the way there. Their new content channels menu offers a great experience, and I now go to it first instead of my lame Time Warner channel guide.
Instead of focusing on what’s showing on live TV, the new menu lets me browse shows and movies from all sources. I can still filter down to only live TV shows, but it’s nice to just browse by category when I know what I want to watch. Google TV supports Netflix, Amazon Videos on Demand, and a whole host of other online streaming content.
Google’s Chrome Browser supports Adobe Flash Player, which opens the door to a huge chunk of streaming content. More and more networks are putting live TV shows and sports broadcasts online (like Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl), but the major networks still block the Google TV browser from accessing a lot of their content.
For example, if your wife wants to watch the latest full episode of The Bachelor on abc.com, you will be granted with a message that your device is not currently supported. You will see similar messages from NBC, CBS, and FOX. Some cable channels like TBS and TNT will allow you to watch some full episodes online, but you are required to login to your cable account and not all providers are supported.
If Google can somehow work out a deal with these broadcast networks, it would make Google TV much more appealing to the average user.
3. Timely software updates to Android and Chrome
It took Google almost two years to upgrade Google TV devices to Android 3.1, which added the Android Market. Now Google has already moved on to Android 4.0, but there are no promises that current hardware will ever get that software update.
I understand that wireless carriers are a big bottleneck with software updates for phones, but there’s just no excuse for the slow updates on Google TV devices.
Another example is the Chrome Browser found on current Google TV devices. It is stuck at version 11, while version 17 was just released to other devices last week. Now that Google has placed the Chrome Browser on the Android Market, they should be able to push out timely updates. Google TV devices would still need to be upgraded to Android 4.0 before that happens, but hopefully it’s on their list of to-dos.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m completely satisfied with my current Google TV experience, as are many others. I think the main frustration comes from the slow pace of innovation compared to other Android devices. I thought by now there would be some awesome applications for my Google TV, but there are not enough devices out there yet for developers to actually get a return on their investment.
Even though many would consider Google TV to be a complete failure up to this point, I still see huge potential in the platform. If Google goes down the route of re-branding their efforts as Google @home or Android Hub, and just makes TV another application of the platform, I think they can turn it into a winning product.
What kind of announcements would you like to see in relation to Google TV?