Google TV was set to make a big splash at this year's Consumer Electronics Show—until Google asked TV makers to delay the product's unveiling. According to reports in the New York Times this week, the setback followed mixed reviews of Google's software—reviews that are putting a damper on the near-term potential of Internet-enabled televisions.
TV makers from Toshiba to Sony have acknowledged that Google's offering has received a lukewarm reception. "We are not necessarily trying to be first here—we want it to be right," said Jeff Barney, VP of Toshiba's digital products division, in an interview with Fast Company. "Google has some releases for the real early adopter crowd, but in 2012, you'll see a little bit more of a robust offering."
A range of TV manufacturers were eager to flaunt Google TV at CES, and it's unclear whether the product delay was Google's decision alone.
"We're working with partners to bring the right product at the right time, and for us, Google TV is not the right product at the right time," says Barney. "It's not necessarily a Google thing—it's a Toshiba thing—making sure it's really meeting the branding standards we have."
Consumer electronics giant Sony, which already has TVs on the market with Google's software, agreed Monday that "some [reviews] have been bad," but did specify that sales so far were "in line with expectations." The company declined to give specific sales figures.
Will Google TV be able to recover after such a poor initial reaction? Sony remains upbeat on its future, according to reports, and Barney says Google still has a "bit of an edge" in the market.
But that doesn't mean there's not potential for others—namely Apple, Microsoft and Intel—to move in on the Internet TV space.
"The competition is wide open," Barney said.
[Image by Evert F. Baumgardner]