Google TV Must Battle Market Confusion - 2012-05-21 04:01:00 | TWICE (click for full article) "NEW YORK - This week, LG joins Sony in delivering to market a Google TV line that brings the Android platform to the big screen with a new brand. But market analysts said that LG and Google will have their work cut out trying to make an Apple TV-like stir around the alternative smart-TV platform. A badly executed early launch left Google's Android system for TVs struggling to whet consumer appetites, despite claims to provide seamless integration with Android mobile devices and a PC-like browsing experience on the TV screen. After almost two years in the market, sales of initial Google TVs from Sony and Google TV-enabled set-top Revue boxes (the latter of which is now discontinued by Logitech but announced as coming soon in a new form from Vizio) remain small niche items of a North American connected TV market. Paul Gagnon, NPD DisplaySearch North American TV market research director, estimated that connected TV now reaches about 35 percent of the North American market, up from 22.5 percent last year. "A number of factors have hindered success of Google TV, but primarily the industry's emphasis on 3DTV and the variety of connected platforms competing for consumers helped to bog down overall adoption," observed Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research principal. "Most of the big manufacturers want their own ecosystem or taste of the Apple success, and it almost seems like this is a backup scenario." Most analysts agreed that consumers are confused when they hear two stories about Internet-enabled TV from one manufacturer, like Sony, as the company continued to market a line of Bravia Internet Video TVs as it unveiled its competing Google TV alternatives. It appears LG is about to do the same thing. It already offers lines of TVs empowered by the LG Smart TV system, which the company promotes vigorously. That system offers links to a number of premium steaming-movie services, including Netflix and Vudu, while LG Google TVs lack Vudu but offers Netflix, HBO Go and Amazon on Demand. Tom Morrod, IHS TV technology senior principal analyst, said, "Betting on Google TV isn't the same as betting against your own platform yet. It's simply a hedge on the basis that Google might be a winner here, and if it happens, it could happen quickly, such as with an Apple TV launch." Still, analysts said that adding two IPTV systems under one brand risks making the purchase proposition confusing not only for consumers, but retailers as well. "It does send a mixed message. If [the dual IPTV platforms are] not clearly messaged by manufacturers, it adds another layer of complexity in the decision making process," Pratt said. "Clearly, it would be a great scenario for smaller TV brands as a quasi-standard, and that may in fact help the overall penetration of Google TV."