By Don Clark / The Wall Street Journal Online
It’s been far from smooth sailing in the early days of Google TV. But partner Logitech International insists the winds are beginning to blow its direction.
New devices based on Google’s TV software billed themselves as offering the whole Internet on users’ televisions, not a walled garden of selected offerings typified by products like Apple TV. But some early reviews of hardware based on the approach–including a Sony TV and Logitech’s Revue set-top box–have been negative. And some content providers have also blocked their offerings from working with Google TV.
Earlier this month, Google asked some hardware companies to put off announcing new products based on the approach, products that had been expected to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show next week. On Monday, the Taiwan-based publication Digitimes reported that Logitech had asked a supplier to suspend shipments of its set-top boxes until Google had launched a new software version.
That notion was flatly denied by Logitech. “Suggestions that production of the Logitech Revue companion box might need to be halted to address software issues are unfounded,” a Logitech spokeswoman said in a statement. “As those familiar with the product know, it is not necessary for Logitech to make changes to the companion box to accommodate future enhancements to Google TV.”
The statement added: “Logitech is currently meeting the inventory needs of its retail customers, continuing to ship products on schedule to meet their holiday and post-holiday demand.”
Logitech has already been updating Revue with improved software, addressing some of the early shortcomings in the product, said Ashish Arora, general manager of the company’s digital home efforts, in an interview last week. For one thing, Google has updated dual-view modes on the system, so users can set different sizes of, say, the image of TV show that is running on a larger image of other Web content. An application supporting video delivered by Netflix has also been updated, he said.
Arora said the company did a study how the attitudes toward the Revue have been changing over time. “The reviews are getting more and more positive,” he said.
That’s despite the fact that perhaps the biggest differentiator of Google TV–the ability to download special-purpose apps, of the sort that has helped sales of smartphones using Google’s Android operating system–won’t be available until sometime next year when Google opens an app store for TVs. “It will give the ability for thousands of Android developers to bring their content to the TV screen,” Arora said. “That is where the innovation is unstoppable.”
As for possible developments at next week’s trade show, Arora advises in a blog post to watch this space: “After a brief holiday break, Logitech’s Revue team will be heading to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, where we look forward to demonstrating how Google TV is transforming the TV-watching experience.”
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