Set-top boxes are the new battleground for the big three web and entertainment companies – Amazon, Apple and Google.
As all three try to control digital content in the home, Google developers confirmed plans to develop a small set-top box device that will stream content into televisions. Similar to Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV and Apple’s Apple TV, the Google device will be powered by Android TV software. This software will make it possible for users to control their boxes with their Android devices as well as play movies, games and content on their TVs.
The Google strategy. It appears that Google is following the same strategy it used with smartphones. Although Google has plans to provide its own box, it is also providing important software to hardware makers to use to power devices. Google has commented that the same approach would be used for other new innovations – like smartwatches, which will be powered by Android Wear.
Google’s focus on software rather than hardware allows it more opportunities to display ads. This ad space is offered to media buyers and their purchases form the backbone of Google’s revenue. In order to support the new Android TV and Android Wear software, Google will need to court software developers to use their platform to create desirable apps and make even more ad space available.
Not Google’s first attempt. Android TV isn’t the first attempt by Google to enter the at home digital content market. Google TV has been offered since 2010 through device makers Logitech, Sony, Vizio and Asus. The Nexus Q was released in 2012 and was Google’s streaming media player, but it never made it to the mass market. Chromecast, a $35 plugin, has been a relative success for the company in this space. Users can stream Internet video to their TVs from devices using Google Chrome.
Android TV’s approach will focus on videogames, although it will offer television as well. Games are the most popular apps on smartphones of all types. Google will likely encourage developers to create games that work well on mobile devices and larger television screens alike.