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Why on earth is Google TV separate from Android?

Why is the only Google TV device available in the UK a £200 Sony box when you can get pretty capable Android Media Center Boxes for a third or even a quarter of that price? (MK802 etc.)

Why is nobody attacking this space with any gusto? Boxee, Roku, Apple TV, Google TV, YouView, Windows MCE and various no-hope proprietary platforms (Samsung - you'll never build a platform anyone wants to build on. Please give up).

Will someone sort this out? We need a decent open Smart TV ecosystem.




Why on earth is Google TV separate from Android?

I'm not sure I understand the question, GoogleTV is an application layer on top of Android that addresses the TV. Its still Android underneath and you can still build Android apps for it.

I can't answer the UK pricing model but in the US you can get the Vizio Co-Star for $99. All the OTT Boxes have come to Roku's realization that these boxes have to be under $100 so now you've got GoogleTV and Boxee at the $99 price point.

Why is nobody attacking this space with any gusto? Boxee, Roku, Apple TV, Google TV, YouView, Windows MCE and various no-hope proprietary platforms

There's a lot of folks attacking this space, most of them the CE providers themselves who don't see the need to use a 3rd party platform

Samsung - you'll never build a platform anyone wants to build on

This isn't true. I say this as someone who builds apps for these platforms this space is crazy busy. Also while it looks like it from the outside, LG/Samsung/Panasonic/Boxee's "App Platforms" are really just HTML browsers. They're not super secret propietary browser they're all pretty modern webkit implementations (Samsung's is Webkit as of 2012) and you can pretty much write a single app that runs on most of these "proprietary platforms" with very little differences between platforms. There's actually a "Smart TV Alliance" with some CE providers trying to standardize the functionality that doesn't map to CE-HTML or another spec (usually access to Hardware API's like channel changes or volume).

http://www.smarttv-alliance.org/

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> Why on earth is Google TV separate from Android?

> I'm not sure I understand the question, GoogleTV is an application layer on top of Android that addresses the TV. Its still Android underneath and you can still build Android apps for it.

Then why can't I run it on any Android device with a HDMI socket? I'd have several Google TVs already if that was possible.

There's seems to be a more restricted culture around Google TV. The source code isn't available so there's no no-name boxes from small OEMs to stir up the low-end of the market. (Although you could argue that they can stick to vanilla Android but that won't help the platform reach or brand-recognition of Google TV)

I agree about the price-point but who apart from Vizio is producing a $99 box? And as I said - the only device available in the UK is the £200 ($320) Sony box.

Didn't know about the Smart TV Alliance. The only smart TV I played with was a Samsung TV about a year ago and that was sluggish and underpowered. However:

"Smart TV Alliance supported products are:

    Philips Smart TVs
    LG Smart TVs
"

That's not looking like an ecosystem. Is it likely to grow beyond those two? How about the small companies? Where are the cheap compatible set-top boxes? If you can make a half-decent Android tablet for $70 then we should be seeing one of these platforms taking off.

[Also - What does 'CE' stand for?]

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> Then why can't I run it on any Android device with a HDMI socket? I'd have several Google TVs already if that was possible.

A simple answer for this is "it is compiled for x86, as the reference platform for a Google TV is an Intel CE4100" (and thereby, if you stole the software off of an existing unit, you would not be able to run it on the numerous ARM Android devices that are out there).

> There's seems to be a more restricted culture around Google TV. The source code isn't available so there's no no-name boxes from small OEMs to stir up the low-end of the market.

This, however, is the real issue underlying your complaints. As the GoogleTV at some level relies on not pissing off content providers whether directly or indirectly (if nothing else, to keep it from being used to do DHCP stripping, but it obviously goes much deeper than that), it is going to be a closed platform; that's simply the game you have to play to be in this space.

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> A simple answer for this is "it is compiled for x86, as the reference platform for a Google TV is an Intel CE4100"

I thought they were switching to ARM or has that not happened yet?

> As the GoogleTV at some level relies on not pissing off content providers

Once again they hold back an entire industry to prevent piracy whilst utterly failing to do so by any measure.

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> I thought they were switching to ARM or has that not happened yet?

This seems to have actually already happened (I didn't actually get any of the new hardware released after this year's Google I/O; I was mostly interested in this the prior year, when it seemed like it might be popular). You probably then actually can just run it on another device, but it would involve stealing the software off of an existing unit.

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>Also - What does 'CE' stand for?

"Consumer Electronics."

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Merging Google TV and the Nexus Q projects would be a good start.

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I used to work for Sony in TV Product Planning and the Business Development for TV platforms in Europe.

> Why is nobody attacking this space with any gusto? Boxee, Roku, Apple TV, Google TV, YouView, Windows MCE and various no-hope proprietary platforms (Samsung - you'll never build a platform anyone wants to build on. Please give up).

It is hard. Smart isn't what people really want from TVs. They want content (games may be a exception but games consoles have that mostly covered for now). The interaction is too indirect (opposite of touchscreen) and the TV screen is shared with everyone in the room making even less suitable for interaction.

To be an interesting content platform you need real scale so Samsung should be interesting as they probably sell 20-30% (haven't been following recently) of TVs globally. If you have compelling content it makes massive sense if you have a working revenue model. If you don't have strong content I wouldn't both.

> Will someone sort this out? We need a decent open Smart TV ecosystem.

No we need (fairly) dumb TVs able to play various sorts of local and internet content streams with standardised interfaces allowing content selection on tablet devices. DLNA/UPNP has the local network side quite well covered but the TV companies fed up of their zero margin business are trying to get some revenue on the content side and it a complex massive job getting good local content available globally.

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Maybe I'm abusing the term 'Smart TV' but what I mean in the short term is something fairly close to your last paragraph BUT with some way for 3rd parties to innovate on the platform.

Your argument largely consists of 'people don't want that' or 'it's the wrong format' which sounds suspiciously like how people described smart-phones pre-Apple.

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Why would anyone want information services or casual games (apart from those to be played with others in the room) on the big screen rather than the phone/tablet?

In the pre-iPhone case there were lots of people wanting information services on phones (on the move especially) and people trying to provide solutions greatly limited by available technology and bandwidth prices (no wifi on phones at the time either). People were trying to read books off phones, listen to music and do many things including some apps even when the capabilities were extremely limited.

Its really not a people don't want argument but TV prolonged screen interactions don't generally fit into people's lives except in a very few narrow scenarios watching, sharing and showing content. In all these cases controlling with a smart controller and interacting offscreen really works better than indirectly manipulating a bigscreen GUI.

If we imagine a TV with unlimited computing power what would it be used for? Well it would replace games consoles. It would offer smarter ways to find content (but the availability of content is probably at least as important) and better search isn't generally a game changer in this market.

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I think Boxee and Roku both have solid platforms and are very forward thinking about their respective ecosystems. The challenge is that video content producers are not there yet. Content producers are not their because adoption of these ecosystems have not yet reached critical mass.

At this point I think the entire industry vertical is more concerned with growing the pie rather than maximizing the slice taking their taking of it.

This tv ecosystem trend is happening, but right now it looks like the iOS App store in its infancy. Lots of potential. The difference was the App store rolled out to millions of existing phones at once. None of these platforms have that scale yet.

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I don't get this either. GoogleTV should be more generally available as an addon to any tvconnected device qhich runs android.

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Because one of the strengths of Google (that projects are done by discrete, disparate teams) is also its weakness (in that there's no cohesion between products and projects).

Thus why Google TV, Android, and the Nexus Q are all different projects that don't interoperate especially well or share a common feature set.

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