The plans for Google’s introduction of its next generation streaming box have been “leaked” to an online magazine. What Google intends to introduce is not surprising. Android TV will jump into a crowded market and go head to head with the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Roku. With all the competition, Google will have to come up with a its own angle to lead consumers away from their current devices.
Information of this type is rarely leaked, in the traditional sense of corporate espionage or disgruntled employees. Google is likely gearing up for a formal introduction and will be looking to start creating buzz for their new product.The Android name is one of the most recognized brands and, as of February of 2013, the Google Android operating system was dominating the market, capturing just over 70 percent of all smartphone users.
The number of current set-top and wireless streaming content devices is dizzying, consumers given an almost absurd array of choices. But Google’s Android TV will be going directly after Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku devices. These are all well established companies with the intention of doing essentially the same thing: send content to televisions through their own channels. The only exception to this is Roku, with no direct channel.
As an example of the importance of channels, if someone has Amazon’s Fire TV, they will purchase movies, download games, apps and whatever else the company comes up with, directly to owners of their system. Instead of buying a song from Apple’s iTunes, a purchase is made through Amazon’s music store. The consumer is kept within the channel. Introducing Android TV lets Google angle people to its own Google Play store.
Google’s public relations teams explained what Android TV will do, saying that it was not designed to be a platform for computing, but rather a paradigm shift for interactive entertainment content. Indications are that the focus is on that interactive process, and the ability to locate and access that content easily and with the use of visually interesting elements without losing the speed or fluidity.
Google is looking to simplify the amount of steps it takes to go from wanting to watch something to watching it. They say they are working with app developers to make their apps as simple as possible and push content to consumers instead of making them go through menus and apps to find what they want. Similar to how Netflix recommends movies and television shows based on past behavior, the Android is designed with the same philosophy.
But in terms of content, Android TV is not much different from Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV and the Roku system. Each have mostly the same features including access to similar apps like Netflix and Hulu, and each, except Roku, has their own internal channels to keep people buying things like movies and music. Amazon’s Fire TV has been built to specifically take advantage of its own channel. Unlike Apple or Google, Amazon has an advantage in knowing what people want based on mass purchasing data. Apple TV works best as a means to seamlessly interface with other Apple devises. Roku takes the consumer out of the channels entirely and just to content.
So what Google’s Android TV is made to introduce an interface system built as intuitive and simple as possible. That’s their angle. Ultimately get people to buy from the Google Play store, but interface is its in. Assuming the price is right, and these companies do not make money off the hardware, anyways, Android TV will be in the same ball park as everybody else. It comes down to what people’s top priorities are when they make a choice for a streaming system.
Commentary by Andrew Elfenbein