Google TV is to be quietly shuttered, says a new report. The experiment in smart TV technology, which launched in May 2010, will live on as Android TV. Although Google declined to comment on the news, one of its partners in its TV division, an electronics manufacturer, confirmed the rebrand, saying, “they are calling it ‘Android TV’.”
The decision is tied to the runaway success of Google’s Chromecast, its streaming dongle, which turns your smartphone into a remote, and which is currently the most popular electronic device on Amazon. (No more over-large, complicated TV remotes with QWERTY keyboards, as modeled by the first versions of Google TV. No wonder people found the hardware a turn-off.) So you can see why rebranding to Android TV is the logical move. People know their smartphones. They carry them with them, watch TV alongside them. In short, one gadget to rule them all.
Google TV joins Google’s Nexus Q entertainment orb, plus its first ever Nexus device, the Nexus One smartphone, in that great warehouse of defunct Google hardware in the sky. Is this because the firm has a piecemeal approach to making devices? There is no all-abiding principle for its purpose, no thought on how to please customers, generate revenue and even brand loyalty.
When it comes to technology, much is made of people’s impatience with their devices when something goes wrong, all part of the dichotomy of modern life. We’re conditioned to want something new, but we’re also conditioned to bitch about how the old one was so much better. But perhaps what tech firms need is a little patience. Customers are more sophisticated about electronics. They want more reliability, better design.
So, that patience thing. Tony Fadell, Nest’s CEO, used to work at Apple and was, at one point, Steve Jobs’s special advisor. He spoke earlier this year about Apple’s design process: “Nine times out of ten, or 99 times out of 100, they would kill the project, either at the beginning, the middle, or right before the product was supposed to be shipped.” (Remember the debacle when Apple greenlit a product before it was ready to go, back in 2012?)
So, although Google TV is not really dead, it is. We won’t be seeing any more Google-branded TVs. What we will be seeing is more Android apps and add-ons to go with the large rectangular object that everyone stares at in the living room.