Hey, here’s a question…

…and I genuinely don’t know the answer.

I recently attended the Adobe Max conference and was one of about two thousand lucky recipients of a new Google TV. The unit, a Logitech Revue, arrived last Thursday, and I blogged about my initial reaction on Friday. Since then, I spent the weekend playing around with it more, customizing the UI a little, adding my own bookmarks, deleting some that I won’t use, moving some stuff around, and generally playing around on it, and I have to admit, it’s not bad. Combined with a nice little, entry-level HDTV (40″ LCD, 60Hz, HDMI) it’s a pleasant experience, and I stand by my initial reaction. It’s not bad, in fact, once I realized that I could watch Lynda.com videos on my TV over the weekend, my appreciation of it skyrocketed. I don’t have an HD converter box in my back room, so it’s just straight cable, and as a result, I’m not using the box to its fullest (no DVR functionality, no “Live TV”). I also still stand behind my sort of “consumer confusion empathy” point of view as well. I see the potential, but I don’t know if the mainstream consumer walking into a Best Buy is going to think, “oh, I need that” and move to spend $299 on a device that, at least in my mind, competes for Xbox, Playstation, Macbook AIR, and iPad eyeballs. Each makes a compelling argument. If I’m going to spend $299, why not just spend another $200 to get a dedicated little portable tablet that can browse the web, view video, and has the added benefit of being portable?, etc.

So it got me thinking. Google just reportedly offered $6 billion for Groupon. That’s a lot of money. Why couldn’t Google spend a portion of that subsidizing the shit out of Google TV? Why is it $299? Why not $49? Why not offer every television, DVD, Blu-Ray, game-box, manufacturer subsidized versions of Google TV as well? Why not offer every set manufacturer a $500 incentive to pass along to the customer? Imagine you walked into a Best Buy or Target to buy an HDTV and there were two models, both 42″ or 50″, whatever. One was $1500 and the other was $1000? Or more realistically, one was $1000 and another was $500, then on sale it was, say, $399? The only difference being the cheaper one had Google TV built in? Or even better, what if, for every HDTV you bought, Wal-Mart offered you a free GoogleTV? Imagine the ancillary sales for Logitech for cameras, Harmony remotes, etc?

Part of my frustration was the lack of content and apps when I powered mine up. Now early adopters are used to that. I had an Android phone for months before there was even one compelling app to download from the marketplace. I played Rainbow Six online with the same dozen or so complete strangers for months before anyone else I knew was on Xbox Live, so I’m used to being in virtual deserts, but how compelling would it be, from a developer standpoint to know that after this holiday season, everyone who bought a television was going to be a Google TV user on December 26th? Six billion (with a “b”) is a lot of fucking money. I think it’s technically a shit-load. One sixth of that is still more money than I can fathom, and I can fathom quite a bit. If you’ve got 6 billion to drop on something as ridiculous as Groupon, don’t you think you could put a little of that cheddar behind something you actually own and developed in an effort to see it gain traction?

What am I missing here?

3 Replies to “Hey, here’s a question…”

  1. I think this is what happens when technology tries to drive the market. The technophiles and early adapters jump on it and form a cult following. Then maybe on down the road, others like myself (the great unwashed) will climb on board. Sometimes it works (Apple might be good example) but for every success there are tens if not hundreds of corpses by the side of the road. Your proposal sounds like a pretty good way to sweeten the pie though, for those of us who never got beyond programming our VCR.

    1. The snowball is this. Developers flock to a platform with a lot of users. Users flock to a platform with a lot of apps. In between is a good idea. iPhone was a great idea. Not just the “smart phone” but the whole app distribution process. Never before was there an easier way to get apps onto your phone. Developers saw it and flocked to it, people saw that it was a great product (the phone… by Apple) that had a tremendous attraction because of both the sheer number of apps, and the ease with which they could be added to the phone. The result? A huge number of people using them, tremendous popularity, and a wave of developers looking to go where the money and momentum was.

      I *think* Google TV (like Apple TV too) is a great idea. I think it’s better than “web TV” for multiple reasons. First, it’s HD. That makes a HUGE difference when you’re “reading” on a TV. Second, DVR capability, which didn’t exist when WebTV was making a run for it, making it much more pragmatically and immediately useful to people beyond just a web-enabled TV. Third, the idea of “apps”. People “get” apps now. They understand and have a lower pain threshold for, “oh, for $3 I can do X with my HDTV using Google TV”. Fourth, and I think most important, home networks have advanced tremendously since the introduction of WebTV. Internet streaming video over wi-fi was just a *dream* when Web TV was launched. The idea that people would have highspeed, wireless networks in their homes seemed like so far away. Now it’s here, and all those things, I think, converge in a very compelling way for people to jump in.

      It just needs that momentum. That little bit that gets it over the hump and makes it accessible to the masses. I think Google is about the ONLY company besides Microsoft, willing and able to use a “loss leader” strategy to gain marketshare (and mindshare) that quickly. The result *could* be game-changing.

  2. With that you have to ask yourself one question Do you feel lucky?Ill pass over the and pun jokes there and say that Google wants every customer to feel lucky using its services. Thats a tad more profitable than trying to offer every possible feature under the sun like Yahoo!

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