...and hello to Android TV.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) will soon ditch the Google in its Google TV branding, according to GigaOM, based on a source from a consumer electronics original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, that has been producing Google TV devices. It will be rebranded as Android TV, the OEM asserts.
This is probably a smart move for two key reasons.
The name just makes sense.
After all, Google TV has always been based on Android.
Even more, Android branding is more closely related to Chrome branding, making the change even more logical. As Google's two operating systems, Chrome and Android have always been closely associated in terms of branding (not to mention the default Chrome browser on many Android devices). Chrome has also seen impressive success on the TV screen with the Chromecast. To date, Chromecast remains the best-selling item in electronics on Amazon, even outselling the new Kindle models, and competing TV platforms Roku and Apple TV. Given very likely future overlap between Chromecast and Google TV, it makes sense to rebrand the Google TV platform with the Chrome-friendly Android branding.
Google TV has been widely regarded as a commercial failure.
Just ask Logitech. The company manufactured and sold (or should I say "tried to sell"?) the first-generation Google TV companion box, dubbed the Revue.
"Sales of Logitech Revue were slightly negative during the quarter, as returns of the product were higher than the very modest sales," the company said in its prepared remarks for its first-quarter fiscal 2012 earnings call. In the prior quarter, it missed sales guidance for Google TV products by a whopping 70%, helping inventory spike 28%. Shortly after reporting negative Revue sales and dropping the price of the device from $249 to $99, Logitech CEO and Google TV enthusiast Gerald Quindlen stepped down.
Though the Google TV experience has improved since the Revue, the platform hasn't seen any meaningful acceptance from consumers.
"Neither Google nor its partners ever released any sales numbers, but judging from app install numbers available on Google Play, one can estimate that there are just about 1 million Google TV devices currently in use," said GigaOM's Janko Roettgers. That's a pretty unimpressive number in light of Apple's success with the Apple TV. Apple TV sales surpassed 13 million by May 2013, with about half of those sold in 2013, said Apple CEO Tim Cook at AllThingsD's D11 conference.
Google TV has largely been held back by its much older version of Android. The latest version of Google TV is still using Android version 3.2, whereas Google's latest tablets running Android 4.3. Beyond a confusing consumer experience, this makes work more difficult for developers interested in developing apps for the platform.
Moving away from the Google TV brand and starting fresh will probably do well in the consumer mind.
What's next for Android TV?
Along with a new brand, Google plans to make some much-needed changes to the underlying platform itself. Back in May, Google said the company plans to get Google TV up to speed on Android OS updates, making it easier for manufacturers to upgrade their hardware to the latest versions of Android in a more timely fashion. GigaOM says that LG and other manufacturers are now claiming they will get their Google TV devices to the latest version of Android in the coming months, suggesting it may come alongside the rebranding.
Given the success of Chromecast, Google has proved that it has learned a few lessons from its unsuccessful Google TV platform. A successfully rebranded (and improved) Google TV could launch an array of formidable competing devices to Apple TV and Roku. Though Google's operating income comes primarily from its ad network, the fight for your living room is important for future products and services -- and reports of a Google TV rebranding indicates Google is taking it seriously.