Deep hardware discounts suggest sluggish sales of Google TV

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Sony's price slashing promotion for its new Blu-Ray Google TV appliance indicates additional trouble for the Android-based device, following a content blockade imposed by television broadcasters, a rash of unenthusiastic reviews, and the fragmentation issues endemic to Android.



Sony announced a promotional $100 price cut on its $399 Google TV device, an unusually deep discount for a brand new product, especially for Sony. While the company offered a variety of Black Friday discounts on other Blu-Ray products, none approached the 25 percent off fire sale of its new Google TV box.



Sony's combination Blu-Ray and Google TV device was just introduced last month, making the slashed price an indication that the devices weren't garnering much attention despite the media attention focused on Google TV and its use of Android. As TechCrunch observed, "this doesn?t look so well for Google?s living room takeover plans."



When Google TV goes bad



Google initially floated plans to line up licensees for its Google TV set top box in May, hoping to leverage its Android OS to deliver "an entertainment hub that searches all of your channels, recorded shows, YouTube, and other websites," as the company described at the time.



In a market where nobody has done very well, Google TV planned to leapfrog Apple's iTunes-tethered Apple TV device by offering an integrated web browser along with searchable cable TV in addition to Internet streaming content. Unlike Apple TV, Google currently has no iTunes equivalent to offer direct movie or TV digital downloads or rentals; it only supports streaming Netflix, Amazon and YouTube videos, as well as web-based content delivered via Adobe Flash and raw H.264.



The first few Google TV devices were met by prominent reviews characterizing it as a "geek product," with David Pogue of the New York Times complaining that it was "an enormous step in the wrong direction: toward complexity."



A second blow from the platform came from broadcasters, who as the Wall Street Journal reported in August, were "reluctant to partner with a service they believe encroaches on their turf."



That reluctance quickly turned into a full scale blockade of website traffic (via Flash or not) to Google TV from ABC, CBS, Fox, Hulu, NBC, and Viacom, dramatically narrowing the ability of Google TV buyers to use the device as it was originally advertised. The remaining features of the device put it in the category of Microsoft's beleaguered Media Center, but lacking that platform's integrated IPTV tuner and Tivo-like DVR playback features.



There's not currently an app for that



The other leg intended to prop up Google TV were custom Android apps targeted at HDTVs, but Google hasn't yet opened up an Android Market for its TV boxes, nor is its Google TV software development kit available yet. A few apps come bundled with the systems, including clients for Amazon, Netflix, and Pandora. Google also bundles its own Chrome web browser.



Google hasn't yet extended its Android Market beyond smartphones, not even to currently shipping Android tablets. In September, Google's director of mobile products Hugo Barra said "the way Android Market works is it's not going to be available on devices that don't allow applications to run correctly. Which devices do, and which don't will be unit specific, but [the current Android OS 2.2] Froyo is not optimized for use on tablets." Nor Google TV.



Barra added, "If you want Android Market on that platform, the apps just wouldn't run, [Froyo] is just not designed for that form factor. We want to make sure that we're going to create a application distribution mechanism for the Android market, to ensure our users have right experience."



Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs noted that fact when dismissing the "avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market," saying "nearly all of these tablets use Android. But even Google is saying don't use Froyo [the current release of Android OS], and instead to wait to use next years' version. What does it mean when a software maker says not to use their release and you use it anyway?"



Android fragmentation and Google TV



While Jobs didn't directly address Google TV as a product, he was critical of Android in general, stating that, "unlike Windows, where PCs have the same interface, Android is very fragmented. HTC and Motorola install proprietary user interfaces to differentiate themselves. The user left to figure it out."



Reviews of early Google TV offerings from Sony and Logitech have made similar observations on the fragmentation in the user interface that mirror Jobs' comments directed at Android smartphones and tablets.



Jobs also took issue with Google's Android Market policies, saying "there will be at least four app stores on Android which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will have to work with. This will be a mess for users and developers. Contrast this with Apple's integrated app store. Has three times as many apps and offers developers one-stop shopping and [they] get paid swiftly."



In comments that apply broadly to Android's use in smartphones, tablets, and Google TV, Jobs added, "we think Android is very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day. We prefer integrated so the user doesn't have to be the systems integrator."



Android ads vs iOS paid apps



Apple hasn't yet announced any plans to open up a store for apps targeting Apple TV, choosing instead to revamp its offering at a lower $99 price point with a very simple interface and new AirPlay features that make the device more of a repeater for iTunes and iOS devices like the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, which can already target Apple TV with AirPlay streaming audio and video.



Beyond the TV, Apple's App Store is also differentiated from Android Market in that the primary business model for iOS involves paid apps; Google's Android apps are almost entirely ad-supported. In part, this is because Android makes it easy to steal games, erasing the business model that has resulted in a healthy market for iOS development on the iPhone and iPad.



Google is also primarily interested in using Android as a way to display ads, as opposed to Apple's business centered on selling hardware. When Rovio, the developer of the popular "Angry Birds" iOS game, brought its title to Android, it only offered it as an free ad-based title, noting "that is the Google way," in a tweet. It later added that while not all Android apps were free, "the ones with more than 50K downloads are? We just hit 7M downloads on Android."



On the iOS platform, Angry Birds surpassed 10 million paid downloads as of the beginning of November. In total, the title had distributed 30 million paid and free versions across all platforms.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,817member
    Wow, Android really seems to be a mess. Google is not Apple that is for sure. I know people get all worked up about Apple's so-called "closed" model, but I prefer it. As a customer I could not care less whether some developer has his titty in a philosophical wringer over open or closed software models or Apple's "big brother' approach. Just make me a product that works and don't make things complicated for the user. Oh thanks Apple, you did that. Google, you didn't.
  • Reply 2 of 77
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,948member
    Critics of Apple's "closed" system just refuse to accept that most folks do not want to deal with the hassles of what Android has to offer. The Joe-consumer has enough of that going on with dealing with the mess that is Windows. Android is going down the same path as Microsoft did in the 90's when the PC makers (HP, Compaq, etc..) installed Windows on their PC's but put their own front-end interface or tools to differentiate themselves. In the end, it was just one big mess.



    Keep it simple for the consumer, make it work well, hide the systems layer, and put it in a polished, well-built box and you got a recipe for success. It still stuns me that the other players have not figured that out yet.
  • Reply 3 of 77
    Are these out in the UK yet?



    And are Sony advertising them on TV in the US?



    If the GTV is being blocked by the networks would they still accept $$ from Sony to advertise it.
  • Reply 4 of 77
    ibillibill Posts: 400member
    Google is proving to be a giant "bag of hurt".
  • Reply 5 of 77
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,774member
    Not quite sure how Google TV relates to Iphone but ok.
  • Reply 6 of 77
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    I have only one principle concerning Google: I won't pay for its service. Never. Why should I? They'll get money from me anyway.

    That would leave off GoogleTV and ChromeOS (Android is fine. I consider it's free) from my spending, ever.
  • Reply 7 of 77
    hattighattig Posts: 858member
    I can't believe how a product can be designed so incredibly badly (from the reviews I have read). Didn't anyone stop and think "this remote control is just absurd"?



    And on top of it all they designed it around an expensive platform from Intel (compared to the Apple ARM based platform). So what if it can do 90mbps H.264 decode, most online HD streams are under 10mbps and will remain at that for quite a few years.
  • Reply 8 of 77
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Deep hardware discounts suggest sluggish sales of Google TV



    That seems to be the case. I wonder where GoogleTV will be this time next year. I say they?ll either have to figure out how to make it useable (i.e: simplifying it) or it simply won?t exist. It?s sad, too, I thought Google?s idea of accentuating the network?s content was a decent plan, but between the OS, the HW, and the networks fighting against it I can?t see how they can possibly win without starting over.



    PS: I think this time next year the AppleTV will have an SDK.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post


    I have only one principle concerning Google: I won't pay for its service. Never. Why should I? They'll get money from me anyway.

    That would leave off GoogleTV and ChromeOS (Android is fine. I consider it's free) from my spending, ever.



    That is an interesting comment. It?s hard to get someone to pay more for an item that has been branded so long as cheap. The major Japanese car companies suffered the same fate in the 80s. Maybe Google needs to offer a subsidy with a new name.
  • Reply 9 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider


    Beyond the TV, Apple's App Store is also differentiated from Android Market in that the primary business model for iOS involves paid apps; Google's Android apps are almost entirely ad-supported. In part, this is because Android makes it easy to steal games, erasing the business model that has resulted in a healthy market for iOS development on the iPhone and iPad.



    Emphasis mine!



    Does the author of this article have any facts or citations to back up this statement?



    .
  • Reply 10 of 77
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,652member
    I'm sure it's not intentional, but Android is a gift to Apple. Apple competes with HTC, Motorola, and the other OEMs that use Android. By providing those OEMs with a half-a$$ed OS strategy, Google has sabotaged them all in the long run. Google has also managed to divert those OEMs from Microsoft, a company that could actually provide a full-a$$ed OS strategy.



    Eventually the OEMs will figure out that Android is not their salvation, and they'll reluctantly go crawling back to Microsoft and learn to accept that they must either eek out a low-margin existence or no existence at all.



    But in the meantime, Apple will have established a very strong position in the market. We might end up in a situation where MS and Apple more or less split the market.
  • Reply 11 of 77
    If Sony discounting a TV means Android must be suffering sluggish sales, what do the Apple black friday sales mean?



    I mean, the two coincide, so why does the blogger differentiate between them so much?



    An the whole "fragmentation" angle is pure bullshit, so it would be great if it could just be laid to rest.



    Besides the fact that the different phone manufacturers put their "skins" on Android, and maybe bundle some of their own apps, Android basically exists in 3 different releases right now, and 95% percent of apps run across all platforms. Older phones might not run the most current, or poorly optimized games, etc. Very similar to iOS3 and iOS4. There are plenty of "iPad only" and "iOS 4 only" programs on the Apple platform, but nobody is screaming about fragmentation there.



    Also, just a reminder that the INTERNET is about ten thousand times more fragmented than either of these platforms, and seems to be functioning fine and in no danger of going bankrupt or being discontinued. Talk about lots of different devices, programs, plugins, etc accessing it, take a deep breath, and stop the Android fragmentation hysteria already!
  • Reply 12 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hattig View Post


    I can't believe how a product can be designed so incredibly badly (from the reviews I have read). Didn't anyone stop and think "this remote control is just absurd"?



    And on top of it all they designed it around an expensive platform from Intel (compared to the Apple ARM based platform). So what if it can do 90mbps H.264 decode, most online HD streams are under 10mbps and will remain at that for quite a few years.



    Sony in the dark ages in some respects. That stupid remote on the sony internet tv is just horrible. I was in my local sony style a few weeks ago and messed around with it. JUST NASTY. and no one even helped me out. I hate the customer service at sony style.

    Now just look at the apple tv with ipad . I can stream all my content over and watch the internet to. Everything is easy and smart. Grandma can go into the Apple store, pick up the ipad and navigate with nary a problem. Well, almost none but you know what I mean.
  • Reply 13 of 77
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    If Sony discounting a TV means Android must be suffering sluggish sales, what do the Apple black friday sales mean?



    I mean, the two coincide, so why does the blogger differentiate between them so much?



    I saw the Apple TV at 20% off at MacConnection. However, none of the other places had more than a token discount, so it appeared to be a MacConnection loss-leader. I guess the difference is whether there was massive discounting at all stores (which would indicate that Apple led the way) or one or two stores. In the case of the Apple TV, only one store that I know of had a significant discount. From the story, ALL Sony Google TVs are being heavily discounted. That's the difference.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    An the whole "fragmentation" angle is pure bullshit, so it would be great if it could just be laid to rest.



    It's BS because you don't like it? Sorry, that's simply your bias.



    It's very real. Software developers are complaining about how hard it is to develop for Android. Users are complaining about the lack of consistent UI. And users are stuck using vastly different versions with no end in sight. My daughter bought a brand new Android phone model in June. It is running Android OS 1.5. They claim that some day it will run 2.1, but it's not available. There's no sign that it will run 2.2 - EVER.



    Given that Android is playing catchup and using 2.2 features as selling points (Flash, anyone?), that inability to get current versions is a very real problem.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    Besides the fact that the different phone manufacturers put their "skins" on Android, and maybe bundle some of their own apps, Android basically exists in 3 different releases right now, and 95% percent of apps run across all platforms. Older phones might not run the most current, or poorly optimized games, etc. Very similar to iOS3 and iOS4. There are plenty of "iPad only" and "iOS 4 only" programs on the Apple platform, but nobody is screaming about fragmentation there.



    Also, just a reminder that the INTERNET is about ten thousand times more fragmented than either of these platforms, and seems to be functioning fine and in no danger of going bankrupt or being discontinued. Talk about lots of different devices, programs, plugins, etc accessing it, take a deep breath, and stop the Android fragmentation hysteria already!



    Which merely demonstrates that you don't have a clue what you're talking about.



    With the Internet, every browser has to be able to read and interpret the same commands. They're not perfect, but they're pretty good. There are very few things that one browser can read and another won't. There are almost NO things that a given hardware device can't access. A web page viewed on 5 different browsers will have slightly different appearance, but the content will be the same. And user interaction remains the same.



    With Android, that's not even close to being true. Apps that run on one device won't even work on another. When switching from one device to another, you have to relearn the entire UI.
  • Reply 14 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Critics of Apple's "closed" system just refuse to accept that most folks do not want to deal with the hassles of what Android has to offer.



    It is true that most folks do not buy an Android powered phone.



    It is also true that a whole lot more people buy Android powered phones than iPhones.



    Is there any explanation for that?
  • Reply 15 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    If Sony discounting a TV means Android must be suffering sluggish sales, what do the Apple black friday sales mean?



    !







    The iPad saw deep discounts on Black Friday.
  • Reply 16 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maccherry View Post


    Grandma can go into the Apple store, pick up the ipad and navigate with nary a problem.







    I only buy products that are suitable for use by elderly people.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 蘋果蘋果蘋果 View Post


    The iPad saw deep discounts on Black Friday.



    Where? I only saw their standard 10% discounts.
  • Reply 18 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 蘋果蘋果蘋果 View Post


    I only buy products that are suitable for use by elderly people.



    Well, smart A, I believe his point is that apple attempts to put forward a product that is simple and intuitive to use. Not a mess that you have to learn how to use.
  • Reply 19 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 蘋果蘋果蘋果 View Post


    I only buy products that are suitable for use by elderly people.



    That's not what he said. Nice try though.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    tjwtjw Posts: 216member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    I'm sure it's not intentional, but Android is a gift to Apple. Apple competes with HTC, Motorola, and the other OEMs that use Android. By providing those OEMs with a half-a$$ed OS strategy, Google has sabotaged them all in the long run. Google has also managed to divert those OEMs from Microsoft, a company that could actually provide a full-a$$ed OS strategy.



    Eventually the OEMs will figure out that Android is not their salvation, and they'll reluctantly go crawling back to Microsoft and learn to accept that they must either eek out a low-margin existence or no existence at all.



    But in the meantime, Apple will have established a very strong position in the market. We might end up in a situation where MS and Apple more or less split the market.



    Just a reminder: Android is the fastest growing OS.
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