…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?