Android Devices

Can apps and a refresh at I/O 2011 save Google TV?

May 3, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Google TV

google-tv-apps-files

Google TV has been rather disappointing for Google and its launch partners Logitech and Sony. Recent earnings reports say that Logitech has probably moved about 200,000 units in the past six months, leaving the company with a lot of unsold inventory. There’s no telling how many Sony Internet TV’s have been sold, but sales haven’t been good enough for the company to brag about. Whatever the numbers may be, Google must act fast to increase them.

Google and its partners are rumored to introduce a new line of Google TV products next week at Google I/O. The new products are said to have faster chips, a better UI, and the Android Market support that we’ve waited for so patiently. But even if these rumors prove true, it may not be enough to save Google TV.

Speed was never my problem with my Revue. While I’d welcome a faster web browsing experience in new chips, it won’t matter much how faster I can get to Hulu.com and be told that Google TV cannot access it. A new UI might be nice to have, but only if it lets me get rid of the pre-loaded apps that I never use and gain more control over how my menu is designed. Apps…well, actually, apps might just be what GTV so desperately needs.

I called the Logitech Revue the best television add-on that you don’t need because the product was a beta in every sense of the word. Things were half-baked, critical features were missing, and it didn’t make sense to spend $300 for something that could be replicated with cheaper add-ons. Introducing Android apps would change all of that. When we asked readers what they wanted from GTV, here are some of the great examples they came up with:

  • VLC to beef up media playback options
  • Games that could turn GTV into a console
  • An IMDb app that could recognize an actor’s face in a movie/tv show and go to that person’s entry
  • Video chat to Skype or programs other than Logitech’s proprietary option

These are just the pipe dreams of some end users, but third party developers could easily make this a reality. It’s madness that I can watch pretty much any codec on my HTC EVO thanks to the many video apps in the Android Market, yet streaming from my PC to Google TV is severely limited by the playback formats supported by Logitech. The Android Market could address some critical shortcomings and make Google TV far more appealing than Apple TV, Boxee, or Roku are in their current forms. News from Google I/O should reveal whether Google TV will be just another also-ran or the go-to television add-on that you need.