updated 10:40 pm EST, Sun December 19, 2010
Google TV sets missing CES to polish software
Google has forced multiple partners to skip Google TV introductions at CES due to a sudden worry about the quality of the software, a leak Sunday evening has given away. LG, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio were all reportedly ready to unveil their own Google TV sets at the show, but the New York Times claimed that all of these have pushed their launches back by an unspecified amount of time. Among the industry, only Samsung will launch two new devices in public, while Vizio is believed to have hardware it will show only behind closed doors.
Among the expected changes are the promised Google TV-optimized version of Android Market, which was planned for early 2011. It already improved Netflix, picture-in-picture viewing and other elements with a firmware upgrade last week.
Executives from Toshiba and and other companies have denied any plans to unveil hardware at CES, but the move was said to have been so unexpected that the electronics makers were simply covering for a last-minute exit. Google has said it won't comment on rumors.
The setback compounds what has increasingly become a botched launch for Google TV. The platform was launched with the intention of bringing a desktop-class web to the TV and giving viewers the best of both traditional and web video, but early bugs and mounting confrontations with conventional outlets have led to both critical and sales problems. Many major studios actively block Google TV after concerns that it would take customers away from more lucrative conventional TV, depriving the OS of one of its main advantages.
In technical concerns, the Atom processor has also struggled with any non-video Flash sources. Most Google TV hardware from Logitech and Sonyalso carries a significant cost premium, either over Internet-focused video devices like the Apple TV and Roku XD series or else existing Blu-ray players and TV sets that in many cases have their own basic Internet support. Best Buy has further warned of steep drops in TV sales that will have punished Google TV more than others for its high prices.