Sony recently unveiled its line of Google TV products. As the first of Google’s partners to offer TV sets that integrate the Google TV software, Sony is selling 24-, 32-, 40-, and 46-inch models ranging in price from $600 to $1,400. Sony also unveiled a Blu-ray player with Google TV for $400.
I’m having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around Google’s marketing strategy here. Its main competitors are Apple TV, which costs $100, the Roku box, which starts at $60, and the Boxee box, which costs $200.
The first Google TV-enabled products? The $300 Logitech Revue box that comes with a full keyboard that people are supposed to keep on their coffee tables, and a line of TVs from Sony—a company that’s never been associated with aggressive pricing—that start at $600 for a 24-inch screen.
I’ll go on record and say that I think Google TV is much more compelling than the rest of the connected TV boxes out there. The fact that it sits in between your cable box and your TV as a primary input device and features a full web browser makes it much more integrated than all the other secondary input offerings. But these initial Google TV products are way too expensive.
Offering a $300 premium box from Logitech and high-end TVs from Sony is fine, but Google seriously needs to offer some sort of basic Google TV box in the $100-$150 range that doesn’t include an elaborate controller—instead relying on the built-in ability to be controlled via a smartphone. I don’t doubt that such a product will eventually hit the market, but it should have been offered as a launch-day purchase to get people in the door.
So for casual consumers the minimum outlay to get into Google TV is either a $300 set-top box, a $400 Blu-ray player, or a $600 TV set. And considering that Google hasn’t done a great job of explaining why Google TV is better than all its competitors, this is already looking like a tough sell. I’d personally love to buy a Google TV box. But $300? Minimum? No thanks.
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