Sony confident Google TV will take off

Faith Merino · December 20, 2010 · Short URL:

Despite struggles with TV networks, Sony expects Google TV to come out on top

Sony is keeping a stiff upper lip despite major setbacks to Google TV.  Sony’s executive deputy president Hiroshi Yoshioka on Monday told reporters at a press event that Sony’s sales of Google TVs were roughly what the company expected to see, though Yoshioka did not give actual numbers, the New York Times reported.

Sony’s TV division has struggled over the last several years to stay above water, but the unit has had a difficult time maintaining profitability.  Yoshioka said that while the company had set a goal of selling 25 million TVs by March 2011, it would likely fall short.  Google TV was expected to turn that trend around, but as all of the major TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and Viacom) have blocked their content from being accessible on Google TV, the device has not experienced the wildfire adoption rate that was expected.

Yoshioka agreed that Google TV has seen some mixed reviews.  “Some reviews have been good, some have been bad.  It might take a little longer for users to really start having fun,” he told reporters.

He was likely referring to upcoming Google TV updates that will allow users to download apps from the Android Marketplace onto their TVs in 2011.  These features will be released in early 2011.

But new features will likely do little to help Google TV when its main issue is a lack of viewing content.  In October, several major networks and Hulu refused to allow Google TV to access their content, citing worries that the Internet giant had not come up with a sufficient profit-generating model to ensure that the networks would make money.  Furthermore, the idea of their programs getting sucked into the Internet vortex where they might become lumped together with pirated content was an unsavory idea, and unnamed insiders reported that the networks were not convinced that Google was not prepared to address that problem.  Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at the Web 2.0 Summit in November that he is confident that Google TV will emerge the victor.

Toshiba, Sharp, and LG were preparing to unveil their own versions of Google TV, but Google has asked them to postpone their introductions.

While Google TV struggles to get off the ground (as it inevitably will), Sony does expect to see an increase in sales among its 3-D TVs.  While the 3-D TVs are expected to account for 10% of Sony’s total TV sales, the units have not taken off as predicted.  Released in June, the TVs saw a sluggish summer, but Yoshioka said sales have picked up in November and December. 

The 3-D TVs use high frame-rate LCDs with a “frame sequential display” to produce images that alternately transmit between the left eye and the right eye, which, when coupled with the “active shutter glasses,” creates a 3-D effect. 

Yoshioka blames the poor sales on the lack of 3-D viewing content and misconceptions that traditional 2-D images will not be viewable on the 3-D TVs.  It is also likely that people don’t want to wear those stupid glasses when watching TV.  Toshiba is gearing up to sell a 3-D TV that doesn’t require glasses.  Apple also recently patented an unusually complicated blue-print for 3-D TV technology that does not require glasses and may be viewed from any angle by multiple viewers.

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