Light Reading

Will Google Fight Fire With Android TV?

Mari Silbey

On the heels of Amazon's Fire TV launch, Google may have its own TV platform to introduce.

The Verge is reporting that it has obtained evidence pointing to a new product from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) called Android TV. According to The Verge's source document, "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform." Further descriptions and screenshots suggest that Google's offering may look a lot like the new Fire TV from Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), as well as other media streamers like the Roku and Apple TV. (See Amazon Joins Video Streaming Wars.)

It's not entirely clear if Google plans to build its own hardware for Android TV, or if it might work with partners, as it did with the ill-fated Google TV. It's also not clear how Android TV fits in with Chromecast, though The Verge says the streaming stick will (ahem) stick around.

The big focus with Android TV appears to be on the home screen, which will have scrolling cards representing TV, movies, games, and other apps. Google will apparently recommend content based on a user's previous activity, much as Google cards do on Android phones today. Google cards suggest information on topics that a user has already browsed or searched, like sport teams and celebrities. For Android TV, Google will reportedly also let viewers resume watching a program that was started on another Android device, such as a phone or tablet.

According to The Verge, Google wants to keep things simple with its new TV product. There won't be any cameras or touchscreen support -- just a remote control allowing users to scroll up, down, left, and right. Rumor has it that providers are developing apps now, and screenshots show Google apps like YouTube alongside Neflix, Hulu, and Pandora, among others.

One interesting consequence of Google taking new interest in the TV space could be the acceleration of TV app-ification. Though Roku Inc. and Amazon already have app ecosystems, both are limited.

However, like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google has a vast developer community. If the app-ification process speeds up, that could have implications for how programmers package and sell their content in the future. There are similar conversations taking place around the development of the Reference Design Kit (RDK) in the cable world. TV apps could shift distribution models, particularly where localized and niche content are concerned. (See Bye Bye OCAP, Hello RDK.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/8/2014 | 7:07:42 PM
Re: Google TV, Release 2

Everything I've seen about Android TV suggests it's a me-too product. The Amazon Fire TV is a me-too product as well, but Amazon has great brand recognition that could drive sales anyway. Android does not have that kind of brand recognition with consumers. Sure, Android phones are hugely popular, but most consumers don't know Android — if they know their brand of phone at all, they know they have a Galaxy, or LT phone, or whatever. 

User Rank: Blogger
4/7/2014 | 8:54:46 PM
Google TV, Release 2
Android TV sounds like what Google TV was supposed to be from the start, or what many of us hoped it would be--the foundation for a new world of TV apps. Sounds like Google is trying to reclaim some of the market buzz here.
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/7/2014 | 6:14:37 PM
The Fight is On :-)
What I hope to see as this "War" unfolds is how Google will price such an offering.  Although $ 99 is a reasonably decent price, Amazon can't beat ROKU or for that matter chromecast.  The challenge is if the device is robust, has a rich-enough content in order to be able to rise above the frey.   The content that the traditional providers are feeding us is frankly, boring :-)

User Rank: Light Sabre
4/7/2014 | 5:54:07 PM
Will It Work with Google TV
Though Google TV flopped, a number of them did sell. I have one myself. As a TV, it's fine, but the additional features have not been "value-adds." It will be interesting to see if Google will reach back to those who have Google TVs, or if that simply doesn't make any financial sense. 

It probably wouldn't take a lot of ad dollars for the backward compatability to make sense.
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