You remember Google TV, right? It was supposed to be the software, running on several different devices, that would reinvent how we consume entertainment in the living room. And perhaps most importantly, it was supposed to be the platform that would beat all competitors.
But that hasn’t happened. Since the release of the Logitech Revue and Sony’s Google TV-based products, the entertainment platform failed to catch on with consumers. And even those who opted to get Google TV-based products were disappointed to find out that it had potential, but couldn’t deliver on the features they were after, like app support and the ability to watch some of their favorite television shows through its included browser.
Even with those issues, some companies aren’t willing to give up on Google TV just yet. Last month, for example, Vizio announced that it would integrate Google TV into a line of its HDTVs. Logitech and Sony also seem committed to the platform for now.
Google is undoubtedly happy to see that. But what about consumers? Current Google TV products have been ignored. And not even support from Vizio, one of the top HDTV makers in the world, will likely be able to change that.
It gets worse for Google. While the company has been trying to get its entertainment platform off the ground, Apple has been enjoying some success in the set-top box market.
After launching the Apple TV last September, Apple announced in December that its device would hit over 1 million unit sales before the end of the year. Since then, we haven’t heard much about Apple TV sales. But it seems that Apple is relatively pleased. And at the very least, we know that the device is catching on far better than Google TV-based products.
Realizing that, I think we can safely assume that Google TV is dying slowly, and Apple TV is healthier than ever.
But that doesn’t mean that Google TV is dead. Quite the contrary, Google has the ability to revive its ailing platform if it can ink deals with content providers and finally deliver apps to customers. That alone would do wonders for its service and potentially bring it back to life, unless, of course, Apple can beat Google to the punch.
Right now, Apple has the unique opportunity to finally kill off Google TV. All the company needs to do is bring its App Store to the Apple TV. Companies offering all kinds of multimedia products would jump at the chance to get in on yet another Apple marketplace. And consumers that saw little value in a black box that only does streaming might quickly realize that a black box that does streaming and offers content from major partners, like Hulu, through an App Store, is a worthwhile investment.
Even better for Apple, it puts Google in a difficult position. If it finally offers apps, will it be able to bring back those customers that Apple stole away? More importantly, will it be able to entice developers to work with it, rather than the Apple TV that at least so far, has proven to be more popular?
It’s tough to say. But it’s quite possible that if Apple beats Google to the market with apps on its set-top box, the search giant might be forced to answer those questions.
Say what you will about the underpowered Apple TV, but I think it has a chance right now to kill Google TV once and for all. All it needs is apps — and more attention from Apple.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear