A View from David Zax
Google TV Loses One Friend, Makes Another
While Logitech’s CEO says Google TV “cost us dearly,” LG plans to jump on board with the search giant’s Internet-connected TV service.
Google TV’s next iteration—a software update making it more navigable, pretty, and generally user-friendly—has rolled out, and is getting rave reviews. “For current Google TV users, the update is nothing but good news,” says MediaBeat’s Devindra Hardawar, who’s been test-driving it for weeks. Hardawar cautions, though, that it probably doesn’t make sense to buy a Google TV device right away; the latest update was only a software update, and new hardware is expected on the horizon.
How much new hardware, though? Last week, Logitech, which had been a hardware partner for Google TV, had harsh words for the service. Logitech’s CEO Guerrino De Luca called its Christmas 2010 launch of the Logitech Revue Google TV set top box “a mistake of implementation of gigantic nature,” which could hardly have been music to Mountain View’s ears. According to the Verge, De Luca said: “To make the long story short, we thought we had invented [sliced] bread and we just made them. [We made a commitment to] just build a lot because we expected everybody to line up for Christmas and buy these boxes [at] $300.” And that, he said, “was a big mistake.” A mistake which, combined with a few other “operational miscues,” cost the company over 100 million in operating profits, according to Luca.
In other words, Logitech and Google TV are breaking up. De Luca didn’t rule out uniting the families again some years down the line, but probably only with a “grandchild of Google TV,” so don’t hold your breath.
If the public dumping of Google TV by Logitech was somewhat harsh, Google promptly found a rebound, it seems, in LG. A few days after the Verge report, Bloomberg came out with news that Google and LG Electronics “may” unveil a TV at January’s CES show. I suppose a lot of things “may” happen at CES, but Bloomberg seemed relatively confident on this one, based on reports from “two people with knowledge of the project.” Official spokespeople from the two companies declined the comment. The Electronics Times, a newspaper in South Korea, where LG is based, had previously reported the two companies were “in discussions,” but didn’t know when the product might be unveiled.
A facelift, a breakup, and a new romance: all in all, an eventful week for Google TV.