Google TV, the search giant's ambitious initiative to change the face of television, is one of the more recent attempts at finally delivering on the promise of television-web convergence. When it launched almost two years ago, it appeared that the timing for this long-discussed convergence could finally be right.
But despite initial appearances that Google was making the right moves, Google TV has struggled.
Late last year, one of the biggest Google TV manufacturing partners, Logitech, called its Google TV set-top box, the Revue, "a mistake of implementation of a gigantic nature" and put the brakes on its involvement with Google TV. And recent statistics show that one of Google TV's biggest selling points, apps, are not catching on with consumers.
Now new analysis of Google TV app distribution data is leading some to suggest that the total number of Google TV devices actively being used by consumers is less than 1m. GigaOm has the details:
Google TV comes with a number of pre-installed apps, which are also listed on the Android Market. One example of this is the TV and Movies app, which is basically Google TV’s programming guide — an essential part of the Google TV experience that most users wouldn’t dare to delete from their machines. The active install base for this app, according to Google’s Android Market, currently is 500,000 to 1 million. The same is true for all the other apps that come pre-installed with Google TV, which suggests that the number of Google TV devices that are currently being used by consumers is less than 1 million.
This data is supported by findings from Xyologic, which recently estimated that the install base for various preinstalled apps ranges from around 600,000 to 900,000 devices.
There are some caveats. As GigaOm notes, the Android Market data isn't a perfect proxy for how many Google TV devices are actually out there. But it does provide an interesting perspective on the growth of Google's television initiative. One intriguing fact is that the Logitech Revue -- yes, the same set-top box that Logitech lost millions on -- appears to be the most popular device for many apps. Ouch.
Google, of course, isn't revealing official sales figures today, and probably won't until it has more inspiring numbers to share. Whether it ever has those numbers remains to be seen. A new generation of Google TV-enabled devices are on the way, which may provide the company with some hope. On the other hand, Google TV, like some of Google's other disappointments, appears to be suffering more from positioning and marketing failures than hardware failures.