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

| Rumor

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.”

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And while delivery of broadcast TV over the Internet is still a long way off,

There Are Actually Many Sites Which Do Deliver Broadcast TV Over The Internet, Such As TVCatchup.co.uk.
I Tend To Watch This As The Reception In My Area Is Terrible.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

What it really means is that Android will be an open appliance platform. The Android app I develop with intentions of deploying to a phone can be tweaked to work on a set-top box or a coffee maker or a MID. Manufacturers who get the platform will make side-loading of apps easy, and will realize that app availability is the number one reason to bring Android into the mix.

Apple, on the other hand, will never license Mac OS or iPhone OS, insisting that it alone has the vision to supply the devices that consumers want. And so it will just repeat the same mistake it made with PCs 25 years ago. Led down this dark road again by visionary leader Steve Jobs, Apple will again prove that the only thing he sees ahead is colon polyps. A shame they can’t patent rectal cranial inversion.


Is There Anything More Annoying Than Trying To Read A Comment In “Title Case?” It Goes Against All Research Indicating That People Read By Recognizing The Shapes Of Whole Words. SUPPOSEDLY ALL CAPS IS WORSE BUT I WOULD RATHER TRY TO READ THAT THAN TITLE CASE.


All caps make my eyes bleed….


Bosco - the jury is still out on which approach will win.

Conceptually, there isn’t much difference between Android and Java - even the Java/Dalvik language syntax is the same. The only real significant difference is implementation, and a better set of standard libraries, widgets, etc.

Most existing set-top boxes already use Java, and over a billion phones use Java . . . yet the platform hasn’t delivered on it’s promise.

There is more to a platform than technology. Microsoft not only beat Apple, but they also beat openly licenced rivals. More open systems (i.e. X-Windows, Linux, the Java desktop) have all failed to challenge Microsoft.

The games console industry, on the other hand, has thrived on closed platforms (even XBox). People theorized that the iPod would be killed by Microsoft’s WMP/PlaysForSure platform.

Rather than being a repeatable principle, it may be that the dominance of MS-DOS, Windows, Office and IE, were actually down to a business executing incredibly well.

Or put another way, Microsoft put a lot of effort into making sure that Windows beat IBM’s OS/2, and to kill MS-DOS compatible systems that were not using MS-DOS itself. They both courted and threatened PC suppliers. They didn’t just write and sell an operating system.

None of which is to suggest that Android won’t dominate - Google could do all these things (and it’s business model is utterly different) - but Microsoft are not a precedent.

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