Report: Logitech Turns Volume Down on Google TV

Logitech has temporarily stopped ordering the Revue Google TV set-top boxes from its supplier, according to a recent Digitimes report.

The Logitech-branded Revue is a device used to provide users with the Google TV service.

Reports that the suspension came at Google’s request are making the rounds, but Logitech has told TechNewsWorld this is not true.

However, Google has asked other Google TV partners, including Sharp, LG Electronics and Toshiba, to hold off launching any Google TV-based sets at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show, according to the New York Times.

Google did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Logitech Slams the Brakes on Revue

Logitech has asked Gigabyte Technology, the maker of its Revue set-top box, to stop shipments through January 2011, Digitimes claimed.

Taiwan-based component manufacturers had expected a total of 500,000 Revues to ship by the end of the year, and this reported pause could hurt their bottom lines as well as that of Logitech.

There’s been speculation that Google asked Logitech to hold off shipping the Revue until it upgrades its software for Google TV, but Logitech spokesperson Nancy Morrison denied this.

“Logitech has not been asked by Google to suspend production of its Google TV products,” Morrison told TechNewsWorld. “It’s not necessary for Logitech to make changes to the Logitech Revue with Google TV companion box to accommodate future enhancements to Google TV.”

Logitech Revue set-top boxes will be updated over the Internet for free whenever Logitech or Google upgrades their software, Morrison said.

However, Morrison did not confirm or deny whether Logitech is indeed clamping down on shipments of the Revue.

“Logitech does not discuss the specific production plans for any of its products,” Morrison stated. “Logitech’s use of its own factories as well as those of its manufacturing partners provides the company with flexibility in how and when it produces products to accommodate customer demand.”

Logitech is “currently meeting the inventory needs of its retail customers” and is continuing to ship products on schedule to meet their holiday and post-holiday demand, Morrison continued.

Google Fail?

“It wasn’t Logitech’s fault that the Google TV offering is incomplete,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. “This needed to be done. It does no good to force an underperforming product into the market.”

Since launch, both the Revue and Sony’s latest Google TV-enabled Internet TV have received mixed reviews. Some critics have found the software inadequate and the hardware overpriced, and they’ve complained it’s too complicated to use.

“The experience isn’t where it needs to be” Enderle said. “The connection to terrestrial TV is very rough, it wasn’t visually exciting and the power of the box was largely underutilized. It just didn’t feel refined.”

Further, Google TV suffers from a lack of content. Hulu, as well as major TV networks — CBS, ABC and NBC — have blocked Google TV from accessing their content.

“Google has a bad history with content providers, and building Google TV technology into TV sets adds a lot to their cost,” Enderle said.

“The networks are worried about Google TV because they have a very definitive distribution network today that makes them a lot of money,” Carl Howe, director of anywhere consumer research at the Yankee Group, told TechNewsWorld. “If Google bypasses that network successfully, they’ll lose a huge revenue stream. In the TV network business, that’s called a bad deal.”

One Step Back and Doh-Si-Doh

If Google did indeed ask its Google TV partners to hold off demoing their products at CES 2011, as has been earlier reported, that could hit them hard. The show is a premier venue for introducing new products into the consumer electronics marketplace, and new television technologies in particular often take center stage at the show.

On the other hand, it might provide Google enough breathing space to smooth out the rough edges in Google TV and make it a more popular product.

“This was expected when it was learned that Google was pulling out of CES,” Enderle remarked. “Google wants to revisit this product and is pulling it out to work on improving it before it kills the brand.”

A high-profile yet poorly designed product can sour the market on an entire segment, putting adoption of the product back years, if not decades, Enderle pointed out. “Better to pull it out and get it right than kill an emerging segment,” he suggested. “This was a wise move.”

In that case, what does Logitech mean by saying it’s meeting inventory needs?

“They are meeting inventory needs because the product isn’t selling well,” Enderle said.

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