Is there life in Google TV or is it time to change the channel?

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

25 January 2011

With so many choices, where does Google TV fit in?

It has been a few months since Google TV made its market debut and it looks as though, by the time it gains some footing, it might only be enough to help it on its way out the door.

Google TV, an interface that runs on set-top hardware made by Sony and Logitech, allows users to search the Internet for TV shows, movies, as well as host services like Pandora and VUDU. The idea is an intriguing one, but it’s not a real game changer for a market saturated with similar enough alternatives.

“Like most of the rebranding garbage out there, Belk ended up with a new logo and color palette and not much more (smells like politics to me).”

Google TV

In the past year, set-top boxes have taken off. Many connect to similar services listed above, provide similar connectivity, and are simple to use. This steep competition – and the fact that no real stand out exists – has created an immense amount of noise in the market place.

There is the Apple TV, video game consoles, Roku players, the Boxee Box, the VUDU Set-Top box, WD TV Live, TiVo, Blu-ray players, and internet connective TVs that all allow users to connect to similar services (although a bit watered down from that of Google TV’s) and view movies and TV shows without needing cable service. Of these options, Google TV is the most expensive.

It is a market flooded with competition with no competitor staking any real claim by way of meaningful brand messaging. The option with the closest semblance to a brand identity would be the Apple TV, whose parent brand has allowed for preference by sheer association.

One large issue for Google TV with overcoming Google’s own consumer granted permissions.  Google is known for their “free” search engine. From the perspective of the consumer, Google does not have permission to sell a good or service at a price. Because, well, up to this point, Google has been free for users.

In addition, Google has done little to present to consumers why they should grant any permission adjustments. The Android operating system, which was acquired by Google in 2005, has been successful but it does not lead with the Google brand. In fact, when referencing devices that use Android, most users say they have a “such-and-such” phone with Android (clearly defining identification between the parent brand and sub-brand). In the case of Google TV, the Google brand leads so a perception shift of the consumer needs to be pulled off.

It’s not impossible to pull that off, but it means Google must have the right brand messaging. (It might, for example, have presented a new product name not so directly identified with the parent brand.) Google is lucky in the sense that it has a strong brand identity. The difficulty is determining how much slack the consumer will give Google before they tighten the leash and require Google to restructure positioning to increase consumer acceptance in ventures that go beyond the search engine.

See more posts in the following related categories: Android apple tv Google google TV Roku


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