Google’s Android TV: Here We Go Again

While Google hasn’t had much luck in the realm of digital television, their latest foray into the streaming media world, now known as Android TV, might just be the product they need to get them over the hump.

At their annual developer conference, I/O, Google officially took the wraps off the Android TV product, which had received some attention back in April when details were leaked. However, unlike previously reported, Android TV is not another set-top box (ala Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV), but instead, a OS system that can be embedded into Smart TVs or other companies’ devices. 

What it will be, however, is a voice-search enabled system that will play movies, TV shows, and games, and offer the ability for users to control these things via smartphone or tablet (no word on whether iOS will be included, though I imagine it would be). Sony & Sharp are rumored to be the first major television manufacturers that will include Android TV in all new devices.

As you may recall, the unsuccessful Google TV initiative was quite the flop, thanks in part to high component costs which drove the price of smart TVs up significantly. Google’s second attempt to breaching the market, Nexus Q, was panned so badly before launch that it never actually made its way into production. Google has had much success, recently, with their Chromecast plug-in, which will receive full support on Android TV.

The future of Android TV, in the end, depends on whether or not developers will create content for it. Given that Google has stated that the TV product will feature the same tools that devs already use for tablets & smartphone apps, however, the likelihood is quite high that they’ll be lining up to get in people’s living rooms.

And will it catch on with consumers? While the streaming media market is stacked with competition (including US newcomer Sony), one unique feature all of those products lack is Google search. The power of Google search on your TV, especially if it’s not a separate set-top to purchase, may be just the advantage the company needs to finally succeed in the in-home market.