What Does an Android-Powered Set-Top Box Mean?

Google and Dish Network are teaming up to create a set-top box that will use the former’s Android operating system, but the Wall Street Journal piece announcing the development is thin on details, simply citing anonymous sources who said the new technology “allows users to find shows on the satellite-TV service as well as video from Web sites like Google's YouTube. It also lets users to personalize a lineup of shows.” (A subscription is required to read Wall Street Journal articles in their entirety.)

So what are the implications of such a service? ZDNet’s San Diaz says: “Linking Web content and traditional TV programming into a searchable database for viewing is a smart idea. Eventually, TV programming will be funneled through the Internet instead of cable and satellite systems. Viewers will need a way to not only find programming but discover new ones, as well.”

Meanwhile, his colleague, Doug Hanchard, muses: “Google could be identifying specific market trends and potentially angling to compete with Apple TV as the primary reason they signed an agreement with Dish.” While Apple CEO Steve Jobs has described Apple TV as “a hobby” for his company, Google’s move could push him to do more with the fledgling technology.

Mr. Hanchard notes: “Google could be of the view, it is the analytics of the content the audience is watching. This would enable intelligent marketing and advertising streams (and some content such as Youtube) to be downloaded to the set top box and viewed.”

And while delivery of broadcast TV over the Internet is still a long way off, the planning stages are happening now, and Mr. Hanchard observes: “Perhaps Apple and Cisco should create an alliance before Google and Microsoft become the two primary players in the setup top box market … Convergence of devices, media and broadcast media is coming soon even if you don’t want it. Google maybe forcing it to the next step.”