Since its inception in late spring 2010, Google TV has been on a roller coaster of success and failure. On one hand, Google TV continues to provide an excellent entertainment experience at a rather reasonable cost. On the other, the platform still hasn’t taken off like Google would have liked. And that’s okay. The connected living room experience is still in its infancy, and everyone in the game has a long way to go. But before we get there, let’s take a look at the evolution of Google TV and the connected living room experience.
The Internet? On your TV?
When Google I/O rolled around in the first half of 2010, the Internet was humming with excitement over Google’s first attempt at bringing the Internet to your living room. No one knew exactly what the experience would include, but if it somehow fit into the Google ecosystem, there’s no way it could be all bad. As it turns out, that excitement wasn’t wasted. Sure, the live demo at I/O didn’t exactly work as planned and content partners were a big mystery, but Google TV showed promise.
As the summer went on, Google and partners Logitech and Sony were hard at work making sure you got that “I’ve gotta get one of these” feeling by ramping up advertisements and dropping teasers as often as they could. As gorgeous as the teasers looked, the pre-release advertising didn’t exactly sit well with consumers. Instead of gracefully showing off what something like the Logitech Revue could do, videos were all over online showing off just how creepy an enlarged eyeball and a lonely TV could be.
By the fall, it didn’t matter what kind of botched advertising campaigns made their way online. The excitement was back, and both Logitech and Sony were ready to release their Google TV devices. The first to hit shelves was the Logitech Revue.
Initial reviews on products from both Logitech and Sony were generally pretty positive. Starting at $249 dollars, you could enjoy an integrated cable TV experience with Netflix, Chrome and YouTube to boot. Plenty of people were glad to jump on board as soon as the floodgates were open:
I paid $249 for the Revue when it came out and I still use it every day.Taylor WimberlyNetShelter
Others, like TechnoBuffalo’s Noah Kravitz, couldn’t agree less:
I had a GTV box - the Sony. I took it back. Why? Because it sucked. It was almost entirely worthless, and incredibly over-engineered and overcomplicated.Noah KravitzTechnoBuffalo
Unfortunately, Noah wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Some really enjoyed being able to use a full on keyboard to navigate the web through their TV. But it just wasn’t for everyone.
As time went on, the story of Google TV became less and less about engineering and more and more about content.
Content is king
After the Google TV had been out for awhile, the general consensus seemed to be, “What next?” YouTube and web browsing on Google TV was great, but development appeared to be at a complete standstill:
It's fun at home to watch YouTube videos with friends or showing work at the office but right now the Google TV project feels abandoned or at least heavily neglected. Where are the updates? The OS is buggy (much more on the Sony box for some reason), and without an app market developers aren't interested.Adam JohnsonMonolith NYC
Networks started blocking content, updates were missing in action, and consumers were flat-out bored. Something had to give. The promise that Google TV displayed at I/O 2010 was now gone. Sales went down so far that, at one point, returns were outpacing sales with one of Google’s “key partners.” As a result, the service was rarely talked about–if ever. Things stayed that way until the spring of 2011. At this year’s Google Developer Conference, the Big G made it clear the service wasn’t going anywhere.
During the Google TV portion of the conference, Google displayed an all new Google TV. By integrating Honeycomb (Android 3.0) into the Google TV OS, Google plans to bring notifications, widgets, a new user interface and the Android Market to a TV near you. The update is still at large however, leaving many users feeling left out:
I really had hoped that I would have seen the Google Market app on my Google TV by now. If I could ask Goole two questions, (...) it would be when will the next Google TV release come out and will us early adopters be supported? I'm hoping my Google TV doesn't become my G1.Trey HenefieldIT Security
Google TV is still an innovative and potential filled idea; however, they have a lot of work ahead of them before they live up to the hype.Oluseun OgunleganCommenter from Google+
I want the market on it now, it's such a pain that I paid for it expecting to get it, 8 months later still waiting and I didn't buy it on launch day. Please!Michael KennedyKinsley Food Pride
I'd say it's more Google that killed Google TV. They didn't get the deals in place with content owners either by not offering enough money or not trying.Tim HigginsSmallNetBuilder
Does Google have it takes to get back in the game?
The future of Google TV
If Google can finally get the Honeycomb update out to TV devices and provide developers with the support they so badly need, Google TV still has a fighting chance.
A dedicated group of hackers from GTVhacker have taken it upon themselves to get Honeycomb onto their Revue before the official update hits the air. The exact method for doing so still hasn’t been released, but several details on the the GTV update to Honeycomb have been confirmed. Our own Alberto Vildosola writes:
Looking at the photo from GTVhacker, you can see not a lot has changed since Google first showed Google TV 2.0 to us back in May. That blue bar along the bottom is back once again. I’m guessing this will appear by pressing the “Home” button on your Google TV remote. ... The space above that blue bar will supposedly house widgets, as demonstrated at Google I/O. It’s still unknown whether or not users will have access to various home screens like we have on phones and tablets. While that might seem like an obvious thing to do, I’m not so sure Google will do it for Google TV. But I could be wrong.Alberto VildosolaAndroid and Me
In order to keep things going until the update is officially available, the original Google TV set-top box, the Logitech Revue, has gone down to a mere $99 brand new. At this price point, a large group of consumers should be tempted to give GTV a shot. And let’s not forget, as many downfalls as the service has, there is still a loyal fan base:
I don't always watch tv... But when I do. I always use my Google tv.Ricky BartlemanCommenter on Twitter
I use Gtv everyday (...) I wish it were cheaper when I purchased it back in December, but with the current 99$ price tag I'm thinking about getting another for my bedroom tv!Dave KellerDriven 2 Excellence
I JUST got it, and so far I LOVE it.Brently AdamCommenter on Twitter
If a $99 Revue still isn’t enough to get you on the GTV bandwagon, then maybe that Market-introducing update is. At I/O we were promised a summer launch date, and around September is still looking good. Hopefully Google can live up to it.
How about you? Use Google TV? Love it? Hate it? Let it all out in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you think of Google’s, or anyone else’s for that matter, connected living room experience.