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

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.

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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.

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Topics: Mobility, Google, Hardware

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12 comments
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  • RE: Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

    I totally agree! We should all take a moment each day to celebrate Google's failures - they help us learn a thing or two about this thingy and that thingy...
    Redtreetoad
  • If by staying committed to the concept you mean Logitech's statement that

    ... they sell out the remaining inventory and will not produce any GoogleTV devices any more, then yes.

    Also, the late Jobs told in May of last year that Google will fail. Logitech bosses could listen to the man with some "vision", but they decided to bank on and believe in Google, which has no this kind of visionary to understand that this type of business can be only a "hobby", not a thing to invest heavily in.
    dderss
    • RE: Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

      @dderss
      Oh you mean the visionary that totally failed at Apple TV too?? LOL You people have really short memory
      Stan57
  • goggle only knows beta. look at how crappy google docs still is.

    Look at what a steaming pile android still is after years. Logitech was stupid to team up with them on gtv. They'd have to be monumentally STUPID to do it again. gtv is still going to suck for years to come. If Logitech even looks at it sell all your LOGI.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Logitech Blog Today - Revue Support & available in US during holiday season

    http://blog.logitech.com/2011/11/11/the-next-version-of-logitech-revue-with-google-tv-due-before-year-end/

    "We are very excited about the new release of Google TV, which includes access to the Android Market, faster and more comprehensive search capabilities, a simplified user interface and improvements to the Logitech Media Player. And we are optimistic about the long-term opportunity for the Google TV platform and the potential for Logitech to offer associated products as the ecosystem evolves."
    swisslakes
  • RE: Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

    "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 doesnt."<br><br>That's all expected from Google with their software on the pc, they are well known for releasing Beta. But this will not fly with consumer electronics like TVs. The gen consumers do not want to fiddle with buggy incomplete and complex software when they're in lean-back mode watching TV. And certainly don't want to think of having a cumbersome keyboard and mouse in the living room, with a big mouse pointer for clumsy onscreen navigation. The whole concept was flawed from the start, even before the launch of GoogleTV beta (WebTV, AOLTV). Both Google and manufactures like Logitech is at fault here. It's like the blind leading the blind.<br><br>With smart phones and tablets usage skyrocketing at the home, why would consumers choose instead to surf the web on their TVs from across the room? Disturb a show thats playing to post a twitter messages or Facebook a friend on the TV, with keyboard and mouse in hand? That's why we have the smart phones and tablets like the iPad sitting on the coffee table. Search for a show on the iPad (i.e. Comcast app, HBO app) and simply send it to the TV of choice around the home (AppleTV + Airplay). Have a game wirelessly mirroring from the iPad to the TV. The TV should be just another accessory in the home connected to our ever growing smart devices, not the main driver.<br><br>Plus with the content providers continuing to block GoogleTV from broadcasting their web shows, what's left in terms of value for consumers? Netflix? Consumers can get Netflix on multiple cheaper devices like Roku, Wii or Blu-Ray players etc.
    dave95.
  • RE: Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

    GTV is here to stay and not going anywhere despite any buggy software. Last update was very good. The technology is in infancy, couple yeas from now it would be good product and probably with kinet and siri like built in.
    locopollito
  • Told you so

    They need a proper designer in there. From concept to implementation that was just some programmers doing the same thing they did on computers but for TV. Who on earth decided they needed to add a mouse cursor mode! And who ever had the idea that you'd type text into a search box to get to the things you want to watch??

    I suspect what will happen is that they'll hire a designer this time, he'll be put into the *same* team that made the previous product and that team (already defending their failure) will then block major changes.

    What I think they need to do, is to take a fresh team, a proper designer and start afresh.

    IMHO, take a Galaxy Player 5 size device (an Android phone without the phone). Imagine all interaction done on that touch surface, selection, showing of icons, etc. I don't look at the TV to select media, I select it on my Android tablet.

    Imagine the TV as a movie display surface only. It doesn't show the same thing as the Android screen unless I want it to, it shows the movie or TV channel it was last playing.

    Imagine touch screen interaction on that surface (or Android tablet even). Imagine having you favorites as icons on that surface (in the same way your favorite might be an app in Android). Imagine the TV display as a drop target on that surface, a rectangular representation of what the TV is playing. So for example, I want to watch 'BBC One', I drag my BBC one icon and drop it on the TV, the TV screen switches to BBC and the little rectangle on my tablet also changes to reflect this.
    I want to see my photos, I drag them to the TV rectangle and it play slide show.

    Imagine that the program icons are rectangular TV frames, I can slide my finger down and they roll over between the icon image and the actual video stream.

    The TV is playing BBC one, I'm looking for movies for later, so I'm watching little previews on my tablet. I drop them into a queue next to the TV frame. I can drag them around to change the order or drag them out of the que. When I'm ready I click play on the queue, the icons (these little rectangle that can show the stream or the icon) slide from the que into the TV slot and play on the TV.

    Youtube clips, TV programs, movies, all can go in the queue.

    There's so much you can do if you stop trying to make another crappy computer plugged into TV.

    I want this, make the screen a video play surface only, the android tablet or phone the interaction device.
    guihombre
  • RE: Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

    "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."

    I'm sure it was an enlightening experience to work with a partner who "celebrates" the loss of your $100 million.

    "With a partner like that, Logitech should have moved more conservatively - especially with a Version 1.0/Beta product."

    "more conservatively?" You mean, like not try to sell a clunky, overpriced, unfinished piece of doo-doo? Or perhaps, get Google to cover the manufacturing costs of said piece of doo-doo?

    Maybe Google could celebrate this failure by buying every unsold Revue and giving them to their employees for Christmas, so they could all celebrate together separately at home on Christmas Day, trying to get the stupid thing to work.
    Synthmeister
  • RE: Telefonica loses $600 million in Q3, first loss in 9 years

    http://ddp.net/uma http://ddp.net/uma
    http://ddp.net/uma
    fyretgdf
  • RE: Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

    I must be in the minority because I like the keyboard. Typing in text to search is essential if you want to find that one movie or TV show your looking for. How else are you going to get a search term in? Onscreen keyboard and remote? Been there done that and its big time lose. Gestures with something like a kinnect and a virtual keyboard? Maybe, but the little Revue keyboard will be more accurate and easier to use. Voice commands? Don't make me laugh. In an open room, with ambient noise and no microphone? You'd wear a microphone while watching TV but not use a keyboard? And it still might not work that well.
    txscott
  • RE: Google TV blame game: Logitech takes its lumps but stays committed to concept

    I find it funny that people think that the only place a TV exists is in the living room. Who's posting comments? People who are lucky to have running water?
    BIGELLOW