Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

Summary:Logitech may have made a "mistake" with its Google TV efforts but its CEO believes Google TV will eventually take off - and Logitech will want to be a part of that effort.

To read the headlines, you'd think Logitech was taking Google out to the woodshed over the big Google TV flop that's getting attention this week. Business Insider says, "Logitech Gives Up On Google TV, Says It ‘Cost Us Dearly’" while Venture Beat declares, "Revue this: Logitech is done with Google TV after $100M loss." Even my UK counterparts here on ZDNet conclude, "Logitech burned by Google TV flop."

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Did anyone actually read (or even hear, first-hand) what Logitech CEO Guerrino De Luca said during the company's Analyst and Investor Day event earlier this week? He wasn't sitting there bashing Google TV. In fact, he actually said, "I would do it again. I would definitely want to help Google establish Google TV..."

The tail end of that quote, though, continues with, "... but with a significantly smaller and more prudent approach."

You see, De Luca knows that there's a there there when it comes to Google TV. The problem was that he went all-in on a new concept - call it Beta, call it Version 1.0, call it whatever you want - and that was a bad business decision on his part. Never once did I hear him imply that Google "burned" his company or that he "is done" with Google or even that they've given up.

For the sake of disclosure, I have a Logitech Revue in my living room - one of the freebies that journalists were given around launch time. It's a cool concept, though we only really use the box for streaming Netflix movies. It isn't because content providers - who clearly didn't understand the concept behing Google TV - cut off Google TV's access to the programming early in the game. It also has nothing to do with a clunky on-screen interface - which has actually gotten better with software updates.

Our biggest beef with the Logitech Revue remains that damn keyboard - and that is strictly a hardware issue with Logitech, not Google. Ever since Microsoft and HP first started talking about trying to find a place for the PC in the home entertainment center a dozen years or so ago, I have been squawking about the idea of trying to bring the keyboard-and-mouse experience to the living room.

Sony's version of Google TV - with the software built into the screen itself - was probably a better idea, but that involved consumers taking on the expense of a high-end TV itself on a still-untested service. That meant too much investment right out of the gate - which translated to dismal sales (especially with the economy being in the shape that it's been in for the past couple of years.)

Shortly after Google TV's launch 13 months ago, I declared that Google TV had the potential to revolutionize the way we watch TV - but not until the players involved (including viewers) had a better understanding of it. In fact, this all makes me flash back to the early days of TiVo - a new concept that would eventually change the way we watch TV. Back then, the entire concept of pausing live TV was mind-blowing to viewers and the very idea that someone could fast-forward through commercials was blasphemous to the industry.

You would think that Logitech - and yes, Google, too - would have studied the DVR revolution and how TiVo's efforts to go it alone, without the cable and satellite guys on-board, would eventually keep the company from growing into its potential even though the technology would go on to be mainstream. (Who today doesn't have a DVR from a cable or satellite TV provider?) You might also think that they would have paid attention to the reasons that companies like HP and Microsoft failed with their efforts to bring a PC-like experience to the living room. (Hint: Consumers HATE the computer keyboard experience from the living room sofa.)

Finally, you would also think that De Luca and other potential Google partners would understand that Google launches everything in Beta first and that it actually celebrates failure as being a lesson in what works and what doesn't. With a partner like that, Logitech should have moved more conservatively - especially with a Version 1.0/Beta product.

Also see: Google's Beta culture struggles when the price isn't free

While others are incorrectly playing up De Luca's comments about Google TV, I choose instead to focus on his overall message. In a nutshell, De Luca likes the Google TV concept and would be a part of it again - albeit in a much smaller way. He admits that the grand rollout of the Revue was a bad call and is wisely pulling the plug on further investments into it.

But his closing quote kind of says it all:

You know, it's always the case: people tend to overestimate the short term and underestimate the long term. Google TV or the child of Google TV or the grandchild of Google TV will happen. The integration of television and internet is inevitable. But the idea that it would happen overnight in Christmas 2010 was very misguided and also cost us dearly.

Yup.

Previous coverage:

Topics: Mobility, Google, Hardware

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