By Matt Burns
I’ll just say it: Google TV is sinking and taking its crew down with her. The service promised to bring new life to HDTVs when it launched last October. But it didn’t. Big media made sure of it by blocking access to their online streaming, seemingly taking away Google TV’s most novel feature. Without online streaming, Google TV’s awesome search tool is crippled and the system is just an overpriced DLNA client and Netflix streamer.
Logitech (LOGI) somewhat signaled the end of the platform’s life today but slashing the price of the Revue unit down to $100. This comes just months after the CEO stated with its 2010 Q4 earnings that they are enthusiastic about Google TV even with just 5 million in sales during last the last holiday season. Today’s price cut states loud and clear that Google TV is on its last legs and one of its launch partners is trying everything to get rid of back inventory.
Google TV launched as a typical Google (GOOG) product. I called it half-baked as it felt like a beta product. Then back in May, Google demo’d the next-gen version at I/O and promised that it would be out sometime within the summer. I also spoke to the Google TV team earlier this year and when asked about the Android Market, they indicated it would be out by the end of the year. Both of those items are confirmed for a summer launch within Logitech’s financial statement and couldn’t come at a better time. The Revue is bleeding Logitech dry.
Logitech posted its Q1 financials today and the company’s Google TV unit was a popular discussion point mainly because of its dismal performance. The company as a whole posted a net loss of $30M, caused in part by the Revue. Apparently the company saw more returns than sales of the Revue during the first quarter, which prompted today’s price cut from $249 to $99. Deeper within the report, Logitech notes that the massive Revue price cut cost the company some $34 million, but will better position the unit within the market and hopefully help with the 13% increase of on-hand inventory caused by unsold Revues.
Logitech took a risk with Google by being one of two Google TV launch partners. As the other partner, Sony (SNE) launched a Google TV HDTV and Blu-ray player at the same time as the Revue and continued to show support for the platform with a huge Google TV display booth at CES. All three products had a fair amount of hype before they launched, but then big media quickly killed the buzz by restricting access to all the online viewing locations.
Google TV promised the world and delivered it. The world just wasn’t ready. The original intent of Google TV sitting between a cable box and your TV to serve as a universal search tool and online streamer is genius. It was never supposed to replace cable. It worked as advertised until big media pulled back their cards. So here’s Google TV, sitting here as an irrelevant product, crippled by the very source of content it was trying to promote all while Logitech is in the corner rocking back and forth with its head between its knees.