Google TV Gets Long Awaited Update
In July 2011, Logitech slashed the price of their Google TV unit, Revue, to $99. I asked if that was really enough to gain adoption, even with a Google TV Android upgrade on the way. Now, since Ice Cream Sandwich has launched, Google has announced a Google TV update. Still, I’ve got to repeat my question: Are Google TV enhancements enough to keep the platform relevant, especially amid the near certainty of a new, killer, Apple TV offering?
Google has highlighted four key goals they’ve focused on to make the Google TV experience better.
- Keep it simple
- Make it easy to find something worth watching
- Make YouTube better on TV
- Bring more apps to TV
The Google TV update has a new “all apps” interface; an improved and aggregated search capability across all content locations, like Netflix and HBO Go; and a fully revamped YouTube experience.
The biggest enhancement involves a full-blown Google Marketplace for Google TV users (which works as long as the app doesn’t require a touch screen). Google has actively ‘filtered’ out apps that wouldn’t work, but is also encouraging developers to start building Google TV versions of their apps. Right now, Google says “50 developers have seeded the market,” with TV-specific apps. In my mind that’s not a very big number.
Sony Google TV units will get the update first, then Logitech’s Revue units will get the update. Revue units are still going for $99, so is now the time to buy? Yes, but for the right people.
It’s important to remember that Google TV is designed to take web content and bring it down to your living room. It’s not a media center hub like the Boxee Box, which aggregates both web content and local content on an external drive. It’s also not an AppleTV, so it won’t be doing any integration with iTunes, iPhoto or your iOS devices. But at $99 with the new update, Google may have finally found a more attractive and affordable living room platform, especially since the Boxee Box retails close to $200 and the Apple TV is only $99.
In my initial critique, I saw the $99 Revue as a last ditch effort with little support, as many developers would be focusing on building tablet applications. But after Steve Jobs’ passing and his biography excerpts detailing future plans, it’s clear Google won’t be backing down on the TV scene. If Google and Apple both have big living room plans, I think we can predict where the next wars of iOS and Android will emerge.