I tuned in to watch both of this week’s Google I/O keynotes, specifically looking for news related to Google TV. I was rewarded with…nothing. Though the subject was first and foremost on the second day keynote at Google IO 2010, there was nary a mention of the product at the 2012 event.
Does that mean the product is dead? No, though there seems to be a dramatic shift in the company’s CE strategy.
This same week, two companies announced the availability of set-top boxes based on Google TV 2.0. Sony revealed a new Internet Player with Google TV, available for $199 on July 22. The Vizio Co-Star Stream Player, also based on Google TV, will be available for pre-order in July for $99. Both products had been pre-announced at this year’s CES.
Readers will remember that Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman of the Board, pronounced late last year that half of TVs in stores would contain the Google TV platform by the middle of 2012. As we predicted in January, this has not happened as Google has failed to attract any new TV manufacturers to adopt its product in their TVs since that time. Today, only four TV sets feature Google TV. With this week’s STB announcements, however, the company seems to be shifting its focus from smart TVs to standalone set-top boxes as the primary platform for its Google TV experience.
This renewed focus on STBs, rather than smart TVs, could be a shrewd move. As we discuss in our upcoming smart TV report, the problems inherent in placing an Internet platform in a device with an 8-10 year lifecycle could make STBs the way to go for smart TV functionality. It’s much easier to get a consumer to replace a $99 STB in a year or two than a $1,200 big screen TV. With consumers changing smartphones every two years, Google has been allowed to develop Android into a market-dominating product. Perhaps this approach will work with Google TV as well.