Google, Intel, & Sony to Add Android OS to TVs

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Google is set to announce Wednesday that the company will team with Intel and Sony Corp. to add Android OS-based Internet connectivity to Some of Sony’s flat-panel TVs, according to BusinessWeek. The deal would have Intel providing the processor and Google the OS for Sony TVs so that they access Internet content directly on the TV set.

Google doesn’t charge for Android OS licensing, but the company would have another platform on which to sell ads. The company would also be able to leverage its prodigious search-related services, again selling ads for the new eyeballs. Intel obviously benefits by selling more silicon, while Sony will have to reliable partners for offering its customers a direct link to the Internet on their TVs.

“The TV manufacturers are starting to look at this as a checklist, or checkbox for Internet connectivity,” Jason Blackwell of ABI Research told BusinessWeek.

The move will, in some ways, vaguely increase the amount of competition between Google and Apple in that Apple competes in the living room with Apple TV. The two models are not even close to being alike, but it’s an easy argument to make that consumers that do access Internet content on their TVs are likely to limit the number of devices with which they do it.

Apple TV, which allows users to access iTunes content on their home networks, as well as TV, movies, trailers, and YouTube videos, has consistently been labeled a “hobby” by Apple executives, and the company does not break out specific sales numbers of the devices.

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12 Comments Leave Your Own

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Probably adds near zero cost of manufacturing, as a standard Android device replaces custom systems like Sony’s XBR. While pretty, XBR got redesigned every year and couldn’t leverage third party applications.

Apple has no idea how to play the licensing game. Android could objectively 1/2 as good as iPhone OS by some omniscient measure. But because it runs the same on your cell phone, your TV, your home phone system, your gaming console, and a myriad of other devices, it beats iPhone OS for overall usability.

(added below)
And here’s the Android stat of the day. The #1 feature request for REAL Studio (n?e REALbasic) has for several months been the ability to make iPhone applications. It’s a request that can’t be fulfilled because of Apple’s new developer license terms. This according to their feedback system which is available to all customers. Yesterday, an equivalent request for Android ranked #68 in the system. Today it is #5.

McDughf

But because it runs the same on your cell phone, your TV, your home phone system, your gaming console, and a myriad of other devices, it beats iPhone OS for overall usability.

Mate, I highly doubt that the UI for these devices will actually look the same.
Take Windows CE, looked completely different on a mobile device then it did on a games console.  Or OS X - different experience on a computer versus a handheld device.

Not only that, Just because something appears on a number of different platforms, doesn’t mean it has better overall usability.

I’m not trying to be a fanboi ( and God knows, Android hopefully would be a welcome change to Sony’s Dire User Interfaces… ) But just pointing some things out.

FlipFriddle

So much for being able to turn your TV on and have it just work. Great. Oh look, it has to download an update; oh no my internet connection isn’t available so I can’t watch anything. I’m sure it will also help add all sorts of gate-keeping DRM nonsense right into your TV hardware. Bonus too, now your TV can get a virus! Whee! Have a Google TV? Well then you have to watch a Google ad before you can turn to the channel you want. I can’t wait for that kind of freedom.

Anyone believing Sony will use anyone else’s OS without tinkering with it to add value for their customers is on crack. The fragmentation continues…

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

What a failure of imagination! You guys will be talking about fragmentation when there are 100 Android devices of 1000 shapes and sizes for every iPhone device of 3 shapes and sizes. Today, in the supposedly highly fragmented Android world, I can pick up an HTC phone running Sense UI and its familiar enough to me as a Nexus One user to be immediately useful. The “fragmentation” of UI is in the applications and overall presentation theme. The “flow” of the devices, which is the model most people internalize of their devices, are the same. What you guys are lamenting is akin to the interior of a Camaro and a Mustang being different.

Imagine an app for your TV, probably even bundled by Sony, that keeps tracks of shows you watch and notifies you of other shows that you’d like based on what people with similar interests like. Actually, that app might have to be for your Android enabled cable box. But the point is, if Sony or your cable company fail to imagine that and deliver that, some little developer probably could. And it will run right next to your weather widget.

McDughf

Do you actually know what a User INTERFACE is?
Its the part of any device, which connecters the user to the final functioning of the device.  HOW it does this, ie the ‘internalisation of the device’ should be quite transparent to the user, and most people don’t really care HOW something works as long as it DOES work and in a manner that is sufficiently speedy to not keep them waiting around ( as in the time interval it takes to change a channel on a TV set, which on modern TV’s is getting longer as the technology advances?)
When Apple changed from IBM to Intel, the experience of OS X never changed - you could never say, Oh, this is an intel chip i’m using ( Virtualisation aside, lets not get silly )

We Don’t Really Have Camaro’s Or Mustangs in The UK, so I don’t understand the analogy you use, so I Have to use Mercedes And BMW’s as examples.  People Often Favour The interior of a Mercedes Over A BMW as it Is Much More refined and luxurious, and the controls operate in a smother manner.  Not that BMW’s have lousy interiors, but there is just that level of extra elegance in the former.
The Interior is the part that touches the user when he or she is operating the vehicle, so it plays a MAJOR role in the decision of the purchase ( the others being performance and aesthetics - but comparing two models of similar ability and looks ) - At the end of the day, both cars have engines, wheels and get you from A to B, so if you’re gonna drive, pick an interior you are comfortable in.

Imagine an app for your TV,

I’ll have to stop you there to let the actual weight of those six words sink in.
Do people want to be running Apps on a tv?  Maybe as you said I am failing to imagine here, but It sounds ridiculous - and this coming from a very hardcore gadget fanatic.  Most people, and everyone in my household, just want a TV they can turn on and start watching programmes, without fluffing over and superfluous settings or popups getting in the way. 
The get pissed when there are more than two remote controls needed, and super annoyed when they have to turn on multiple devices / boxes when they just want to veg out in front of a show - They don’t want to be pressing buttons, with pop up windows that obscure their shows, transparent or not.
TV is our relaxation, AWAY from the computers / smartphones / tech.  And if Sony start integrating as standard an app that tracks and analyses your viewing habits?. that certainly would put people off from buying their sets.

FlipFriddle

Heh. My imagination is definitely the problem. I imagine my TV reporting back to its manufacturer what I am watching. I imagine my TV not allowing me to watch content that I made myself because it doesn’t contain a DRM wrapper that the manufacturer approves. I imagine (for example) a Sony TV downrezzing video that is being played from a competitors device to make you think Sony content looks better. I imagine my TV getting a virus or trojan horse so when I turn it on it just says “pwned!.”
Make my TV a dumb one please.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

They don?t want to be pressing buttons, with pop up windows that obscure their shows, transparent or not.

I understand your hesitance now. You’ve never had an Android device and are imputing a major annoyance of the iPhone interface on what you imagine an Android powered device would work like. Fair enough. Find a pal with an Android phone and ask him or her to show you how notifications work. Then come back and I’ll explain how Sony could hide them further so that they don’t interrupt you at all. Any Android developer could do it, from the smallest one person shop to a manufacturer bundling the OS like Sony.

FlipFriddle

I think McDughf’s point was that if it has more than an on/off, channel, and volume buttons we are moving backwards not forwards.

Seems like a great way to keep the prices of new TVs high.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I know it’s not Bill & Ben Flowerpot Men running on a 50s era B&W set, but this is just amazing.

Oh what Apple TV might have been if it weren’t a locked up hobby…

OpenMinded

Bosco,

I know you provide a service, an alternate point-of-view, playing devil’s advocate…whatever, but sometimes you push too hard and then you become background noise.  Maybe less is more?  Make your point and move on - you’re starting to become more annoying than that troll from a few years ago Paul Thurrow.

My imagination is vivid but on this topic I agree with McDughf, I want my TV to be a TV, I already have a Samsung series 9 TV that can connect to the internet but never use it - an iPad in the iving room is a much better user experience.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@OpenMinded: I appreciate what you’re saying. But a Mormon friend once told me that they don’t send the kids to do missions in downtown Utah.

I’ve been trying to find an example of someone mainstream and well-known in the Apple ecosystem who is more off the reservation than I am at this point. And then I browsed by Daniel Lyons’ (aka Fake Steve Jobs) regular Newsweek column today.

To each their own… While the industry coalesces around informal standards and goals, Apple will be in its NIH (not invented here) corner, Google, Sony, Intel, Logitech, and all sorts of other heavy hitters will be bringing useful stuff to the living room. I’m surprised they didn’t toss “manage your home’s power consumption” in there to show that collaboration is greener than going it alone. Google has found a new star in Vic Gundotra. No doubt Steve’s next keynote will be compared in the tech press to Vic’s, not the other way around.

I think Apple fans have a lot of fun kicking around the likes of Psystar, HTC, and even Adobe. I don’t think you have the stomach for war with Google. The cool part is that we’re gonna find that out now grin.

Terrin

Too bad Google didn’t just steal it’s entire game plan from Apple. What has Google done recently that Apple didn’t start first? Last I checked Apple didn’t send one of it’s board members to Google and then enter search a year later. Google essentially did a Microsoft on Apple. Used Apple’s trust against it. I guess all is fair in love and war, but Google should give up the whole don’t be evil mantra. 

On a side note, even Microsoft’s new phone OS can be said to be original. It isn’t just copying Apple’s OS. That at least looks interesting. Google is essentially trying to be Apple. There is nothing on an Android phone that one doesn’t look at and say hey that is kind of like the iPhone.

Further, Google’s Android emergence can really be attributed to one piece of good fortune. Namely, Apple having to make a multi year deal with AT&T to get it’s foot in the door. If Google brought Android to the networks about the same time, it wouldn’t have found a foot in the door. Apple’s iPhone revitalized the phone market, yet it can’t reap the full rewards because it is temporarily confined to AT&T. It essentially paved the way for Google and Google is real lucky it could walk onto Verizon without competition.

The real competition will begin when Apple’s AT&T contract expires.

I don?t think you have the stomach for war with Google. The cool part is that we?re gonna find that out now

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