24 Comments

Summary:

How many Google TV devices are actually being used by consumers? Google and its partners have never released any sales figures, but publicly available Android Market data offers some interesting insights. Market data also suggests that price may be key to Google TV’s future success.

google tv

It’s widely known Google TV hasn’t exactly been a success story. Early CE partner Logitech lost millions on the device, and consumer feedback was mostly negative after the first devices reached the market in late 2010. But how many of Logitech’s Revue boxes and Sony’s Google TV devices are actually being used by consumers? The answer is less than a million, according information hidden in Google’s own data. Also interesting: Logitech’s Revue set-top box makes up more than half of those devices.

Google and its partners have never said how many Google TV devices were bought by consumers since the platform’s debut, but the company said in the past that device activations have doubled since the  Google TV 2.0 software update late last year. A Google spokesperson declined to comment on any numbers for this story. However, there are some very useful clues hidden within Google’s Android Market statistics: Google publishes ballpark numbers about each and every app’s active install base — the number of devices an app is installed on right now — as part of its Market app pages.

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. I asked Xyologic co-founder Matthäus Krzykowski how the company gathers its data, and he told me that it estimates the install base of apps based on a number of data points, and usually only sees error margins of a few percentage points.

It’s worth pointing out that the number of active devices doesn’t necessarily translate into sales numbers. People could have bought Google TV devices and never turned them on. Devices that haven’t received the Google TV 2.0 update, which was rolled out last fall, also aren’t part of any Android Market data.

Data shared by developers shows that Logitech's Revue makes up for up to 70 percent of all Google TV devices. The other two entries shown in the chart represent Sony Blu-ray players and TVs.

Still, Android Market data does offer some interesting insights into Google TV’s usage. App developers can, for example, see on their internal Market dashboard which devices their apps are installed on. I asked a few developers to share these data points with me, and the results show that Logitech’s Google TV fire sale apparently worked: the Logitech Revue set-top box accounts for 50 to 70 percent of all Google TV devices used to install various third-party apps, depending on who you ask.

That’s actually good news for Google, which is about to roll out a second generation of devices with CE partners like Vizio, Sony and LG. The new devices are based on ARM chips as opposed to Intel, which should bring the price down considerably. Logitech ended up selling its Revue set-top box for $99, which may just be the pricing sweet spot for a Google TV box.

Still, the numbers clearly show that Google has some work to do. Even if you take into account that active devices don’t equal sold devices, it’s obvious that others have been doing far better. Apple has sold 4.2 million Apple TV units, and Roku — despite missing its own sales goals — was able to sell 2.5 million boxes by the end of last year.

  1. “we’re growing by every metric we care about.”[in regards to G+]. Maybe somebody has to take a look at their metrics, or get rid of some and come up with a strategy.

    Schmidt Says Google TV Ads Will Be a Cash Machine
    http://gigaom.com/video/schmidt-says-google-tv-ads-will-be-a-cash-machine/

    The Mounting Minuses at Google+
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204653604577249341403742390.html

    Samsung: ‘We’re not doing very well in the tablet market’
    http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13970_7-57385739-78/samsung-were-not-doing-very-well-in-the-tablet-market/

    Share
    1. Jonathan Bingham Thursday, March 15, 2012

      No cause for quite that much pessimism yet. What Google TV really needs is for Apple to come out and solve the interface and experience, and then be the fast follower with a free version the TV manufacturers can install and customize with their own home screens. Here’s my take on how Google TV can win even after the slow start:

      http://www.perfectionparadox.org/2012/01/how-google-tv-wins-in-2012.html

      Share
  2. I have had a Logitech Revue for many months now. By far, I use it 99% of the time for one thing and one thing only, streaming flash video online via the Chrome browser on Google TV. And I can say this unequivocally: Chrome browser on Google TV SUCKS. It sucks BIG TIME. It is prone to frequent crashes when flash video is playing. It has no good pop-up blocking functionality. It does not support extensions, so you can’t have ad blocks. When using Chrome on Google TV, I feel like I am back in the Internet of the pre-Firefox days! It’s RIDICULOUS to put it mildly. Is it too much to ask Google to provide a good browser on Google TV? I would have been happy with my Revue if only the browser worked okay. I don’t really need any other fancy apps as long as I have a good web video experience.

    Share
    1. You are still using 3.1, right? I believe there are some improvements to the browser in the 3.2 update that should reach Revue devices soon. Not sure whether that will help with Flash, though…

      Share
      1. Is that a fact i.e. 3.2 update will be available for the Revue….have not seen/heard anything formally from the Logitech folks.

        As regards the numbers, my purchase of Revue was at the firesale. The key value from the device has been the ability to view content streamed via the browser. Beats connecting a laptop to do this. But if you have a HTPC with a supporting device to feed non DLNA TVs such as XBox, you can do some limited stuff.

        Revue with its browser opens up access to a lot more content. Unless, you want put additional software on the HTPC to add the media center limitations. Microsoft with its XBox should have made a killing but charging folks for Gold Live to get media streaming is just plain silly…cannot figure out what their value add for the internet streaming component to justify the charge?

        I have tried a number of DLNA applications to integrate web streamed content with my TV viewing but Revue with its browser does a decent job. If only I could add plug-ins into the Chrome browser on Revue….opens up a whole lot of other options.

        And if 3.2 is on its way to Revue, then HLS certainly enhances the value.

        Share
  3. I have the Logitech Google TV device and it was the fire sale that made me pick it up. The price point certainly needs to be under $100, but closer to $50 to be a competitive and sought after standalone device. They may find better success with baking it in to TVs.

    As for Google TV? I love it. The issue I have found it people are expecting a miracle device. Unfortunately, that is not a possibility right now with the current content limitations. To me it is a silent partner, an accompaniment, to your current TV watching. The guide and search seamlessly mesh your cable/satellite programming with what is available online. It handles Netflix and Amazon perfectly, but needs Hulu (another content licensing hangup). I think the browser does what it needs to for a TV and using the Chrome to Phone extension to push content to the screen is great. I can share a story with the family or watch a video together; I am not looking for it to be a workstation. There are some fun little games to kill time with, but again this is not a gaming system.

    Share
  4. I’ve been using Windows Media Center for years along with a tuner. Couldn’t be happier. I can’t understand why Microsoft doesn’t capitalize on their advantage.

    Share
    1. Great point and question! I’d like to connect with you to learn more about it. Email me at dain@dainbinder.com if you get a chance.

      Share
  5. fewer than, not less than

    Share
  6. I dunno about google TV. but i know there smart tv platform on the 2012 LG TVs is gonna be waaaaaaaay better than any smart tv unless somehow myspace tv gets the android OS on panny TVs. Google TV may seem wack but LG Google Smart TV sure aint.

    Share
  7. Sure Google might be dominating in the search engine world, I still believe they have some work ahead in the TV industry. I love the idea though of Google TV and all the apps that come with it, I have yet to see one in a shop though here in Australia. Fingers crossed they will grow in popularity so I can purchase one.

    Share
  8. Recently, I was (and still sort of am) in the market for a streaming device. I was caught between Boxee and Google TV. The problem for me, and I imagine many early-adopter consumers, is there is no one platform that has ubiquitous platform support. Options are a big deal when you’re looking at living room devices. The only streaming platform supported by every device is Netflix, which is great for Netflix but is a terrible indicator of the state of streaming.

    I like to rent Amazon movies to stream, but even Google TV only supports it via the built-in browser. That’s just OK for now. Roku’s Amazon app is much better, but of course Roku is notoriously lacking a YouTube app and a few others like Vudu. Boxee has a good browser that will support Amazon Video, too, and supports Vudu well and YouTube with a so-so app. Boxee also has your local media covered really well with the best media recognition algorithm that I’ve witnessed to date.
    Google TV has the brightest app potential, however, because at least theoretically any Android app can be made a GTV app trivially. But so far, the GTV apps remain mostly unimpressive. My hope and guess is that Boxee will come over to Android and GTV will be a viable platform for me.

    For the rest of the consumers, price is still way too high. Consider that Apple TV is selling for $100 retail while most of the other players (except Roku) are trying to make out like a streaming bandit for $200-$300 device prices. That’s a huge leap. And that’s why Roku has a great install base despite having a much less capable product. It’s taken a few years to see the Revue and Boxee devices reach a price point where normal people might be compelled to to see it as a good value (BTW, I hate this race to the bottom as much as anybody, but I think if Apple is pricing their streaming product at $99, you really have to fight for $200).

    I’m also not going to be surprised if some of the living room players are eliminated or consolidated in the next year. I don’t know if Boxee can make it on devices much longer, so maybe a Plex-like presence is in their future. If so, they need to get on board the ubiquity train if they expect people to pay. I am guessing Roku will be fine because they are so inexpensive that many folks will not mind dropping $50 on a streamer for a spare room or on a whim. Xbox could have been a much bigger player in this space if Microsoft didn’t squander their heyday (but then, isn’t that what Microsoft always does?) Of course, Nintendo is apparently clueless about its home presence. Netflix makes more now from the Wii as a stagnating platform than Nintendo does, I’m sure.

    So, I think we’re all expecting an Apple living room shake up this year from a reborn TV product. If that happens, all of a sudden consumer demands will be crystalized and Google and Boxee will have something to parallel and/or contrast from a feature and interface standpoint. As it is, nobody really knows how people want to interact with their boxes. Do they want a Wii-mote controller? Do they want QWERTY remotes? Do they want just a D-pad? Do they want voice controls? Do they want to use their smartphones? Do they want Kinect? Apple will probably tell consumers what they want and the rest of the devices will adapt (and subsequently have their pants sued off). Most people seem to believe that Siri will be involved in that. Talking to me TV is a tough sell for me but Apple works miracles with marketing. And we’ll all be paying attention to the Apple sell on this one, because I think all the other companies are too exhausted to innovate.

    Share
  9. How do you conclude from this data that less than 1M units have been sold?

    I have a Google TV, and it came with Napster and Pandora. I’ve never downloaded or even opened them. I’ll bet my unit is not reflected in those numbers. If they were, why don’t all the pre-loaded apps show the same download numbers?

    Share
    1. I have the same question. Having shipped lots of Android smartphone apps I would not draw many conclusions about these market download numbers. I don’t think preloads are counted for smartphone apps in the market. I’m also curios about tablet numbers being mixed in with those numbers. I have downloaded several tablet apps to my Google TV.

      Share
  10. When my Grandma used to say “El que mucho abarca poco aprieta” (“don’t bite more than you can chew”), she was probably prophesying about Google

    Share
  11. The number on the Android Market is installs, as in number of times the app was installed via the Market. This number does not include pre-installs. Also, this number all time installs, it is not active installs.

    Basically the entire premise of this article is false.

    Share
    1. That is incorrect. Android Market displays active installs, not total installs. By the way, a good way to verify my approach is to look at the data for pre-installed apps on Android tablets and handsets – e.g. Gmail has 100-500 million installs. The number of activated Android devices is over 300 million, according to recent data from Andy Rubin.

      Share
  12. Does this affect your prediction from December that Google TV will “win?”

    Share
    1. Good question :) it definitely shows that Google has some homework to do… but I’m still optimistic with regards to their long-term prospects. It’s a solid platform. Now all it needs is some better, more affordable hardware.

      Share
  13. Sony already rolled out an update to their devices recently. This update improved Chrome startup time and overall Flash performance. Logitech is working on their update and it will be released soon. Stay tuned!
    -Google TV http://goo.gl/DisaS

    Share
  14. Wow all we see lately is Google bashing, and from what I read, it seems to be from people that have no experience in using the product they bash, reminds me of the PC/Mac wars of years ago.

    I use GTV, and I think it adds to my TV experience greatly, I am on a Logitech, which sucks, but that isn’t Google’s fault, similar to how the smartphones are not Google’s fault. Manufactures want to own the experience.

    Could Google do better at bringing in more? Sure. Still GTV is not dead, it does work, and it will help bring about a better TV experience.

    Share
  15. To be fair thats probably more than a couple of months sales of Batman comics and arguably you can do more with Google TV than a Batman comic.

    Share
  16. In addition to the formal Google TV there are so many “generic” Google TV out of China, and they are sold in every country: Europe, Australia, China and really everywhere. Check for example http://www.artwaytech.com as a manufacturer who sell Android TV box worldwide. And they even sell now Android 4.0 ICS, while Google TV is still based on Android 3.0; These generic boxes can download all the market application, and for Amazon (just as example) there is no need to use the Browser, but there is a native application. Out of USA the generic Android TV boxes are the killers today

    Share
  17. Jonathan Bingham Thursday, March 15, 2012

    What Google TV really needs is for Apple to come out and solve the interface and experience, and then be the fast follower with a free version the TV manufacturers can install and customize with their own home screens. Here’s my take on how Google TV can win even after the slow start:

    http://www.perfectionparadox.org/2012/01/how-google-tv-wins-in-2012.html

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post