Google TV reborn ARM support new OEMs and more
For some time the future of Google TV was looking pretty grim. Logitech, whose overprice and underpowered Revue failed miserably, had decided to move on to greener pastures. Sony seemed like the only supporter of Google TV when the 3.1 update came out in October, and it seems like even less people bought the Sony Blu-Ray player and Sony TVs then had bought the Revue. With competitors like Roku making waves everywhere, the ever louder drum of rumors surrounding an Apple TV, and every TV manufacturer out there trying to figure out how Smart TVs will keep them relevant, Google needed to make a big play to keep their service in the game. More hardware, less expensive, and faster distribution are necessary in order for the platform to survive. According to the Google TV Blog, it would appear as though they are trying to do exactly that. More HardwareIt has been my experience that, while the set top box method of using Google TV is acceptable, the user experience when the entire television is a Google TV is a huge improvement. Google announced partnerships with LG, Samsung, Vizio, and a continued relationship with Sony. All four of these companies are heavy hitters when it comes to manufacturing televisions, and each of them will be presenting devices at CES next week. Additionally, each of these companies have a history of making splashy marketing campaigns about new products and features, which will put the idea of Google TV in front of consumers from four different sales teams. Alongside the new TV manufacturers, Google has partnered with chipset manufacturers Marvell and MediaTek, who plan to showcase devices that offer Google TV. With six different companies offering solutions at CES, Google TV will more than likely be the talk of the town. Less Expensive$300 was far too much for the Logitech Revue when it came out, and when the price dropped to $99, they still didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Price is a critical component of the equation, and many of the manufacturers now partnering with Google are going to try and leverage ARM to help with that. LG, Marvell, and MediaTek all have their own variants of the ARM architecture that they are bringing to the table. While LG will focus on TVs, it’s clear that Marvell plans on releasing many different kinds of devices at different price points. Perhaps even an answer to the recent Roku Streaming Stick. Capturing the low price points without taking away from the performance that has been experienced so far would be a big step. ARM support for Google TV sounds great, but raises some unanswered concerns about how well Google TV will work. As of right now, there’s no official ARM build for one of the most critical components of Google TV. As many times as the tech community has jumped at the whisper of the hope of Chrome for ARM chipsets in our phones, it would be interesting to see how Chrome for Google TV will work. No official statements from Google on this has been made, and no one from Google was willing to comment on how ARM support for Google TV would play out. Faster DistributionEverything that comes from CES is still months away at best, even with hands on. In the mean time, the competitors to Google TV will continue the march forward. Releasing a volley of devices at reasonable prices is a good step, but making sure the devices are available everywhere is equally as important. Google’s partnership with Vizio is impressively strategic, in that it also pulls Google TV’s into WalMart locations across the US. Vizio’s relationship with distribution channels like WalMart and CostCo will allow for a massive distribution channel for Google TV. Meanwhile, each of the other OEM’s will likely be distributing through places like Best Buy, Amazon, and other electronics outlets.Another huge step Google could take to improve adoption would be to move Google TV to the rest of the world. The international tech community has spent the last year peering in to this really cool candy store, but they can’t have any. There are too many international media rules to make something like that easy, but it would be a huge step in the right direction. Final ThoughtsGoogle TV isn’t dead. Far from it, in fact. The fact that Google TV has limped along this far is impressive, and I am sure that Logitech Revue owners throughout the US feel the tragic burn of the early adopter. With an army of new hardware partners, and the possibility for an impressive amount of growth, it’s clear that Google TV isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With CES just around the corner, we will soon see exactly what the future has in store for this platform.