Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Google is plunging into the growing media streaming market with its first Android TV platform device.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which tried but failed to conquer the home TV screen with its previous Google TV platform, is counting on its new puck-shaped Nexus Player to score much better with consumers. The small streaming box, manufactured by AsusTek Computer Inc. , will be available for pre-orders starting Friday and become available in stores on November 3, selling for $99.99. An optional gaming controller will cost an extra $39.99.
Powered by the Android TV operating system for smart TVs, tablets, set-tops, streaming devices and other video devices that Google announced in June, the Nexus Player will feature a remote control device that uses voice-based search technology, much like the new Amazon Fire TV media streaming box that Amazon introduced earlier this year. The Nexus Player will also feature nearly 30 video and audio apps, including ones for Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Pandora. And it will support Google Cast, the same technology used by Google's Chromecast streaming media dongle to "cast" content to TV sets and other video devices in the home. (See Can Google Get TV Right?)
Google announced the Nexus Player along with the new Nexus 6 "phablet" from Motorola and the new Nexus 9 tablet from HTC on Wednesday afternoon. Like the Nexus Player, the other two devices will run on the latest version of the Android operating system, also known as Android 5.0 Lollipop. (See Google's Nexus 6 'Phablet' Is LTE-A Ready.)
Nexus Player will likely compete most directly with the Amazon Fire TV and the equally new Sony Playstation TV, which Sony just launched in North America earlier this week. All three devices are primarily designed as gaming devices, although all three also offer plenty of video programming.
But the new Google entry could also give Roku and Apple TV, the two early leaders in the online media streaming player market, a good run for their money as well. In a recent report, IHS predicted that the Android TV operating system could disrupt the streaming market by equipping smaller, lesser-known hardware makers with a complete, ready-made platform for media player use. So the Nexus Player could be the first example of that. (See Android TV Could Roil Streaming Market – IHS.)
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading