Published On: Wed, Jun 25th, 2014

Google Readies TV Set-Top Box in Race with Apple, Amazon

ios (1)According to a Wallstreet journal report, Google is to unveil a new television set-top box on Wednesday as it races Inc.,  Apple Inc. and others to control digital content in the home. During its developer conference Wednesday, the search giant plans to show off at least one small set-top box that resembles products like the Roku, Amazon's Fire TV, and Apple's Apple TV, according to two people who have seen the device.
Google's device will carry another company's brand, but will be powered by Google's new Android TV software designed to play movies, games and other content on televisions, the people said. Users will be able to control the box using Android smartphones or tablets, and potentially other devices.

The details suggest that Google's television strategy will be similar to its smartphone strategy, providing key software to hardware makers to power their devices.

Google has said it would follow the same playbook for wearable devices like smartwatches, the first of which are expected to be shown off at the conference. Those will be powered by another flavor of Android software called Android Wear.

It isn't clear if Google plans to design its own version of a set-top box running Android TV similar to its Nexus line of smartphones and tablets that are powered by Android.

Each Android device presents another opportunity for Google to display ads, its primary way of generating revenue.

To support its new operating systems like Android Wear and Android TV, Google needs to court software developers to build apps that will appeal to consumers.

This won't be Google's first effort at a set-top box. Since 2010, it has offered Google TV through device makers such as Logitech, Sony, Vizio and Asus. In 2012, it introduced the Nexus Q, its own streaming-media player, which never made it to the mass market.

Google's one successful TV play has been the Chromecast, a $35 dongle that lets users stream Internet video using smartphones, tablets and computers running the Chrome browser as remote controls.

The Android TV pitch is expected to include a focus on videogames, which are among the most popular apps on smartphones.

One key feature according to a developer who has been briefed on Google's plans will be games that work seamlessly between mobile devices and televisions. For instance, a user playing a game on an Android smartphone while commuting might be able to resume the game on an Android-powered television at home.

Android games and other apps built for TVs are also expected to take advantage of larger screens, for instance split-screen, multiplayer games will be offered according to a person who has seen one such game being developed.

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