Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How I See It… From the Non-Geek Geek

Reflections on the Google purchase of SageTV by MrsGeekTonic

In the middle of June Sage TV announced that they had been acquired by Google, and shock was heard round the world. JK! 99.8% of the world has no idea what Sage TV is. The tech world is not quite as big as most enthusiasts would believe. Even amongst the tech world, my guess is that most do not bother with HTPC systems. Therefore, the HTPC “circle” (using Google’s latest word) is fairly small.

Google TV to revolutionize your television????

In May 2010, Google announced they were developing Google TV. In September Apple followed with a similar announcement. Google TV was launched in October to mass hysteria and a run on the partnering devices. Again, just kidding! Google’s own website claims that there are 5 billion TV views in the world, so of course it is only natural that they want to create a product that all 5 billion of those people HAVE to have. Sorry, but GTV is not the internet’s answer to Blu-Ray. Here is what I believe their big mistake was…. They market the product as a way to bring the internet (which they know A LOT about) to your TV (which they obviously know nothing about). They discount the idea that people have TVs to, I don’t know, watch TV?

In November of 2010 a blog (Home System Integration) had an article, “Can Google TV take down a HTPC?”, in which the author ruminates “This unit seems targeted at the general consumer who probably has never considered having a keyboard in the Living Room, let alone performing everyday tasks like checking email or banking from the comfort of their own couch!”


Guess what? I don’t want a keyboard in my living room!

The average TV watcher is struggling with the 3 remotes (minimum) they already have. Not everyone has picked up on the universal remote concept yet. I actually had to buy a coffee table with drawers to house our plethora of remotes. Furthermore, has the author ever heard of the laptop… or iPad? Our family of 3 can watch our favorite show AND compute (our own interests not the person who controls the remote) at the same time. Now, granted the average family doesn’t have a laptop for everyone in the house, but still…. I am also getting older (eyes aren’t what they used to be) and I need my computer screen to be a little closer than the TV. I have a hard enough time reading the “guide” let alone try to type a document from the” comfort of my own couch.” Even the early reviews said “This much is clear: Google TV may be interesting to technophiles, but it’s not for average people” –NYTimes. I contend that it doesn’t really interest technophiles either, because it has a LONG way to go. Add to this most networks have blocked GTV from accessing their content… Sooo basically it is a computer for the living room. GACK!

So how does Google fix its GTV problem without completely throwing out the concept? Well they could have spent time and money developing their own system that will do what the HTPC folks had already accomplished or buy a Linux based system that has some additional perks and devices that they can learn from. Enter Sage. (Oh, and because they are Google they also buy one of the companies that blocked their content – HULU). I don’t know what it was about Sage that they wanted. I am sure many of you have been speculating about that. For all I know, it could be just for the UI, but the reality is it is probably for something that was still in development/negotiations that Sagies haven’t even had access to yet.


Here is what I think will happen in the future. (Mind you I know nothing! Remember, I am not even a geek… I am just married to one).

  1. Sage will continue as it is for awhile – although no new sales of extenders and licenses will be available
  2. Google will integrate the best Sage has into GTV2 (this could take some time so no need to panic yet).
  3. Google will then release GTV2 to the mass market.
  4. Google will shut Sage down to force you all to buy their product (which will fail because it will not be as intuitive.
  5. Google will allow 3rd parties to write add-ons for GTV. (This is a HOPE more than anything.) They do have 3rd parties writing “apps” for GTV now… Hopefully, that would be allowed for the TV side of things.

The unfortunate part of this whole buy-out is that the W in WAF, in Google’s world, is not “wife” it is “world”. They will dumb down a pretty good system for the masses. Hopefully, they will not lock it down so that those who know what they are doing can still use it.

My suggestion is that all of you Sagies get on the board and start a thread of the MOST important things Sage has to offer that would have to show up on GTV for you to, even in a million years, consider buying it. You know someone at Google is reading that forum.

So “Can Google take down a HTPC?” The answer is, yes and no. They have taken Sage, but I believe others will pop up as well. Remember, Google’s goal is 5 billion TVs. Enthusiasts will make smarter systems for their own personal use, but buy the new and improved GTV for their mom.

This is a companion article to the Why Did Google Buy SageTV & What it Means for GoogleTV written by MrsGeekTonic.