Apple TV challenge from Google falls flat in 2010
Posted by at 1:54 am, December 26th 2010.

Logitech has reportedly halted shipments of its Revue Google TV boxes through January while waiting for Google to update its software on the poorly selling units.

According to a report by DigiTimes, Logitech's supplier, Gigabyte Technology, is reportedly noting a hit on its revenues from the suspension. The report also stated that Taiwanese component suppliers anticipate Google to release its forthcoming update to the Android OS in late February or March "at the earliest," allowing suppliers to resume shipments at some point after that.

Within two months of its launch, Sony slashed the price of its own Google TV product, signaling that sales were not going as well as expected amid less than charitable reviews. Last week, Google was reported to be telling its other licensees not to show their existing Google TV-based set top boxes and televisions at next month's CES.

The delay was intended to let Google "refine the software, which has received a lukewarm reception," according to a report by the New York Times. The Android-based Google TV was unveiled in May and launched in early October on devices from Sony and Logitech. Other licensees, including Toshiba, LG and Sharp, were planning to release Google TV products at CES, including televisions incorporating the software. The report noted that Google's "late request caught some of the manufacturers off guard."

Google's track record in delivering new software products has been less than stellar, with 2009's big announcement of Wave being abandoned in a year, the expected release of Chrome OS being delayed an entire year, a focus on Flash playback on Android delivering poor results, Twitter-competitor Google Buzz failing to find lots of interest alongside the company's Knol Wikipedia-killer, and big news concerning the company's rival VP8-based WebM video codec petering out as H.264 continued to gain major traction.

The Google TV initiative ran into trouble with broadcasters before even launching, and many have subsequently blocked the boxes from displaying their content aimed at web users, one of the primary features Google TV was intended to deliver.

Jobs on Google TV

Creating a set top box is not easy, Apple's Steve Jobs has acknowledged, long calling his own company's Apple TV a hobby rather than a major business. In June, Jobs said in an interview that the cable operators "give everybody a step top box for free, or for $10 per month. That pretty much squashes any opportunity for innovation, because nobody's willing to buy a set top box."

Jobs took a shot at Google's recently unveiled TV ambitions, saying "Ask Tivo, ask Replay TV, ask Roku, ask Vudu, ask us… ask Google in a few months.

"The only way that's ever going to change," Jobs said, "is if you can really go back to square one, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they're willing to pay for it. And right now there's no way to do that."

Jobs later launched a new version of Apple TV based on iOS, and offered the new device for just $99. The new version has proven to be far more popular, selling around a million devices in less than a quarter and earning positive reviews, including placement in Time magazine's top ten gadgets of the year.

The new box skirts around the "go to market" problem Jobs outlined for general purpose, TV-centric devices like Microsoft's Windows Media Center and Google TV, which both aim to provide DVR playback of live TV, programming listings, and similar features that compete with cable boxes. Apple TV targets movie rentals and playback of other iTunes content, with the newly released ability to stream pictures, TV, movies and music from mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad.


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iPad tops Mossberg's list of best reviewed products of 2010
Posted by at 1:53 am, December 26th 2010.

Technology journalist Walt Mossberg listed the iPad as his best reviewed product of the year, while he called out the Dell Streak and Google TV as the worst products of 2010.

Calling Apple's successful tablet device "amazing," Mossberg wrote that the iOS 4.2 update and huge selection of apps help the iPad "to stay ahead of the competition."

As promised, Apple released the iOS 4.2 update for the iPad in November, adding multitasking, Game Center, AirPlay and a number of other features to the device. "iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product," Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said of the update.

Mossberg gave the No. 2 slot on the list to 4G networks, noting that today's 3G networks are "bursting at the seams." 4G networks, which are still being expanded, are "something to watch closely in 2011," he said.

Highlighting the growing rivalry between Google Android and Apple's iPhone, Mossberg called third place a tie between the Samsung Galaxy S and the iPhone 4. For Mossberg, the Galaxy S "is representative of the powerful force that Android has become within the smartphone marketplace." On the other hand, the iPhone 4, even with all the new competition and the antenna controversy, is "still the best overall smartphone," said Mossberg.

6 weeks after his initial positive review of the iPhone 4, Mossberg published a follow-up, standing by his initial review. Though he took issue with the iPhone 4's reception on the AT&T network, he continued to praise the smartphone as "the best device in its class."

On Time magazine's top 10 gadgets of 2010 list, the Samsung Galaxy S took second, behind the iPad. The iPhone 4 came in sixth place on Time's list.

Mossberg named the Android-based Dell Streak his worst reviewed product of 2010, calling it a "tweener." The tablet, which was meant to take on the iPad, received a "thumbs-down" from the journalist for being too big for a phone and too small for a tablet.

The second worst reviewed product of 2010, according to Mossberg, was Google TV. Reviewers, including Mossberg, found Google's entry into the living room "chaotic" and "complicated."

Google TV has seen several setbacks in recent weeks. According to The New York Times, Google has asked TV makers to hold off on introducing new Google TV products, catching some manufacturers off guard. A new report from a component supplier claims that Logitech has halted shipments of its Revue Google TV box while it waits for an update, which is expected in late February or March "at the earliest."

In a June interview with Mossberg, Jobs predicted Google TV's current struggles, noting that the current situation with cable operators "pretty much squashes any opportunity for innovation because nobody's willing to buy a set top box."

"Ask Tivo, ask Replay TV, ask Roku, ask Vudu, ask us… ask Google in a few months," he said.

"The only way that's ever going to change," Jobs said, "is if you can really go back to square one, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they're willing to pay for it. And right now there's no way to do that."


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