How can life possibly be hard for a company with a net worth of more than $5 billion? Well, Google apparently has stubbed its toe and is struggling to make the best of it. The problem is with Google TV, which was to be the company’s universal solution to all things video. It is intended to provide a single, simple access point for all programming, whether it is broadcast over the airwaves, on cable, on satellite, on a telco system, or available on the Internet. It has not been as simple as Google might have hoped (or planned), and now the company has asked its partners to not show any new products using Google TV at the upcoming CES 2011 trade show in Las Vegas. Making this change in direction must be creating some difficulties for major players such as Toshiba, LG, and Sharp.
Part of the problem may be the lackluster sales to date for the Sony HDTV and Logitech network media player that include Google TV. Another part of the problem, however, may have been Google’s failure to secure access to the most popular content. At this point, ABC, CBS, and NBC all have declined to make the content from their Web sites available through Google TV, and you can’t access Hulu’s large (and attractive) collection either.
So while the potential is enormous, it is clear that Google is not yet in a position to deliver on that promise. So pulling the products from CES may be a good call. Or it may shake the confidence of both product partners and consumers, and maybe we’ll just muddle through without Google’s help. It’s too soon to tell, but when the company does get it right and is finally ready to roll it out in earnest, it had better be awesome.