Geeks of a certain age are known to constantly bring up Monty Python phrases and yes, I suffer from the same malady. So, when I hear the constant criticism of Google TV, I can't help thinking of one scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." In response to the cry of "Bring out your dead!," one hapless soul being dragged on the cart for dead bodies cries out "But I'm not dead yet!" That is the cry of Google TV right now.
The problem is we are still very early in to the world of connected TV. It really is a new medium, and as has been true for most any new medium so far, the first thing the new medium does is imitate the old medium. So, Google TV is mainly being judged from the standpoint of non-connected TV, i.e. the ability to replicate previous broadcasting models in delivering broadcast content to the TV. Due mainly to business issues, this hasn't happened yet for Google TV.
Yes, Google TV right now is basically a browser overlaid on top of broadcast content. Yes, you can get video designed just for Internet delivery and there are some apps which run in the browser, but so far it looks like this by itself hasn't been compelling enough for most reviewers. However, I believe the current version is just the beginning. Google TV can be updated, and all signs point to an upcoming major upgrade which has the potential to be the "real" Google TV.
One shortcoming of Google TV is right now there is no easy way for people to develop applications which have some knowledge of and way to tie to the broadcast content being delivered to the TV. Indications are this next version of Google TV will change this. Probably through some form of watermarking/fingerprinting technology, it will be possible for application developers to get information about the broadcast content being watched and then develop interactive applications which enhance broadcast content, not replace it. This, broadcasters may get interested in and bring us a bit further down the road towards what the new medium of connected TV can really be.
An oft-cited example of this sort of app would be an app which shows tweets from your friends about the show while you're watching it. Still, I'm hoping the development community will be able to come up with more interesting ideas. And, I think this points to why Google et al decided to put Google TV into the market when they did. Of course you need to have something in the market for the year-end holiday season, but you also need to have products out in front of customers for developers to touch and get interested in. So, in my way of thinking, what Google is doing with the current version of Google TV is seeding the market to engage the developer base in preparation for the next version coming down the pike.
Another thing to keep in mind is that I believe Google is in this for the long haul. In the end, Google TV will be successful for them if it helps get Internet apps accepted on TVs regardless on whether or not in the end the platform is Google TV or not. However, it looks like Google will need to hurry up with the new version if they want Google TV to survive the bad publicity the current version is getting...