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Google And Apple May Bring Us A Console War We Didn't See Coming (forbes.com)
38 points by drone 1485 days ago | hide | past | web | 43 comments | favorite

"It’s hard to imagine Google and Apple not delivering a product with ten thousand percent more refinement, so it may be the case the Ouya won’t be long for this world."

L O fucking L. Especially in Google's case, their MO is to always throw the half-baked product out onto market, call it "beta" for 5 years, and make it good eventually. That's not bad in itself, but the author has no idea what they're talking about. Apple will start with a small, lacking-functionality ("on purpose") product, have it be incredibly closed, and polish it up for the second release (if any). Judging by their history with Apple TV, I wouldn't count on a homerun here either.

Did Forbes hire a 12-year-old fanboy to write this?

Wouldn't Android and Google TV/Nexus Q be Google's foray into this space? Seems about right on schedule for a homerun on their part.

Apple TV doesn't need much to become a huge hit. Open up the SDK and the App Store, allow control of games with iPhone/iPad and with a good performance boost it certainly has potential.

Google TV is still a steaming pile (I've owned one for a while now), and Apple TV has no industry support. It's just an expensive Roku with fewer channels/apps. As others have said, Google stands to gain nothing from this, especially when other manufacturers are already making an Android console. Apple could, but they have been rudderless since ol' Steve went.

How is Apple TV "just an expensive Roku"? $99 certainly is not a high price point. Not to mention that Apple TV actually costs $0.99 less than Roku 3.

They seemed a bit more game focussed at WWDC with Sprite Kit, Dynamics and game controller support.

I replaced my AppleTV with a Roku around a month ago and I couldn't be more pleased. The overall app quality is inferior, but nothing beats being able to use Plex.

> allow control of games with iPhone/iPad

Or with that SDK for third-party controllers they added in iOS 7...

Well first I would argue that we did see this coming: AAA games make money but so do casual and free-to-play games. Wii established the precedent, and follow on devices such as the Ouya expand the market for console devices for casual games. Also, Roku 2 shipped a version with a game remote and Angry Birds.

My concern is that it is too early for Google to introduce an Android gaming console, without establishing a standard for games to be developed against. The first Ouya's have sold out (to the chagrin of the presale buyers), but customers don't need the confusion of multiple incompatible consoles at this stage. Having a different market application is probably fine, but the developers need to be able to publish to multiple markets and still customize the games for the for the console they are targeting.

I believe that actions taken by Google at this stage could prevent Android gaming consoles from becoming established, and they should be willing to defer to the first mover, Ouya, in order to build an economy of compatible Android gaming consoles later.

I agree that its best for Google to focus on enabling Ouya (or any other nascent console developer). I'm not even sure what benefit there is to Google to own a particular piece of hardware, when they could be taking a slice of the pie from lots of hardware manufacturers (through ads, of course, or enabling technologies).

A better place for Google, IMO, would be looking at how they can re-define what the console experience should be - they have a potential Kinect killer in Glass.

I'm afraid that Apple might be out of their league in this regard. Everything about the AppleTV screams "day late and dollar short" to me. I'm not sure their expertise in mobile experience can be easily translated to the big screen in front of the couch. Just throwing some common games on an AppleTv and calling it a gaming console seems a little silly.

What's in it for Google?

There's always been a reasonable argument that it benefits Google to have a diverse mobile device ecosystem, in which open standards compliant browsers and apps that can access Google services are a baseline feature. Their nightmare scenario was a world of locked down mobile device platforms with browsers hard wired into proprietary web portals and services that cut them out of the loop.

TV is a different medium though. It's useless as a web browser platform and Google app style services have never worked will on them either. The control interface is just too clumsy. So as a general web and services access platform it's not that attractive.

What TV is good at is video presentation and games. Google's never going to make any money on games, either on mobile or on a TV platform. They do have youtube though, so that's really the only viable route they have towards revenue on the TV.

The problem is, nobody making an Android based TV device has any incentive to include a youtube service on it except Google. If Samsung say produced an Android based TV device, what's in it for them to support a Youtube app? Better to strike a revenue sharing deal with Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc. They could revenue share with Youtube, but then Google is only getting a slice of the revenue, instead of the whole lot from Google's own TV device.

Google is already getting squeezed out of their own Android ecosystem by companies like Samsung and Amazon rolling their own default apps and services for their devices. On an open Android platform on the TV, that effect would be considerably magnified.

Google makes money off the Play Store, I imagine; a TV is a good Play Store client.

I imagine that if Google expands the Play Store standards to include console apps that do not conform to the all-touchscreen conventions of Android, then Ouya will be able to get Play Store support. The Ouya guys insist that they tried to get Google to support them but that you must have a touchscreen to get access to the play-store.

Certainly, and the reasons those standards were put in place were good ones. There where devices with less than usable touchscreens (including resistive) and in some cases no touchscreens. These are the myriad of devices from Shenzen, one after another, running Android derived from AOSP.

At the same time, these devices were only one of the problems. Google was fighting against companies putting the Market on devices that could barely run Android, couldn't run 3D games that were available in the market, didn't support playback of video formats that were commonly used in the games and other applications, and had other limitations.

The availability of the devices contributed to Android's popular image as a low-end platform, with Apple's iPhone being the premium device. Remember, this was during the Android 1.0 and early 2.0 days.

At the same time, it was clear that Android needed to support multiple platforms. I asked one of the developers in IRC at the time when we would see a "set-back box" running Android, or systems for vehicles. The response was along the lines of "let's concentrate on phones first."

Now we are seeing a perfectly reasonable restriction in the Market (now Play Store) license being used to exclude a new product category from the officially supported application store where Google collects a healthy cut.

Also, doesn't the Ouya controller have a touchscreen, and even run Android on it's own internal CPU/GPU? It's not clear to me from the Kickstarter description but it would make sense.

The trade-off here for Ouya is either collecting the share of the revenues for themselves, including possibly through their own free-to-play credits system, or having a large number of partially supported games which were not designed to use a controller. I can see that whether it was the original plan or not, having their own application store makes sense for Ouya if they can get the developer attention they need.

That's really what I'm talking about here, Google's careless implications of creating a competing console may have the effect of confusing potential buyers at Target or GameStop as to which Android console to buy. The result being they buy neither.

The Ouya has a touch pad, but not a touchscreen. The touch pad is intended as a fallback pointing device, not a primary input.

But yeah, Android is appearing on a myriad of devices, many being simple "mini-PC" screenless gizmos with the Play Store illegally hacked on. There's a huge market for low-cost hackable set-top devices and Android is the cheapest popular OS for this, so it only makes sense for Google to start supporting this market and get in on the action.

Actually, this is one space where Microsoft's Windows 8 RT has a tremendous advantage. WinRT's store requires that every application support keyboard/mouse controls. This means that a potential WinRT set-top box could include a presenter-style controller and access the official Win8RT thing without the kind of growing pains Google will see as they deal with expanding their OS into new form-factors.

Of course, MS won't bother with a Win8RT set-top box because they've already got the XBox1 coming, and they don't want to cannibalize their own market like that.

All very good points. The Ouya is indeed an Android console, through and through. It doesn't take much digging into the settings area to see stock Jelly Bean UI. Like, right down to the "shutting down" popup/animation. It does have a touch pad on the controller, but I've never once seen a reason to use it (yet). A "nice to have", though.

Despite the recent negative buzz, I've been pretty happy with my Ouya so far. It's a $99 console, people. Some of the games have hinted as some real innovative gameplay and it can emulate any classic game console you can imagine. Next up is getting XBMC running on there, it's supposedly pretty far along. It does suffer from typical Android issues, the most notable being the tendency to slow way down for a second or so, then speedily "catch up" to input that was deferred. If you've scrolled an Android phone, you've probably seen that behavior. It's annoying in gaming. I hope they can fix this.

Um, if Apple makes apps available for the Apple TV and can nail the user experience, they might really have something. A $100 Apple TV with $1-5 games and a lot of free to play would be such a better deal for most consumers than the $500 consoles with $60-70 games.

Also, there is a window for a Steam box to do well too.

OUYA might not be getting rave reviews now, but I think it's going to grow into an interesting niche for sure.

Steam box is going to be in a very different market - Valve's plan is to have three tiers - a lite ARM-based Miracast client for people who have a gaming PC and want to stream gaming from it to their TV, a full PC with a drive and all the bells and whistles, and a middling low-power solid-state device. The last one, the "better" box as Newell calls it, is the one that will be most directly competing with normal consoles, but since it will still require full X86 hardware and beefy gaming processors, I don't imagine they'll be able to get it under $400.

Both Google and Apple have an interesting controller too- smartphones. Games running on an AppleTV and controlled via an iPhone seem like a pretty decent concept.

The smartphone is not the same as a proper controller with tactile feedback.

No it isn't. But it is free. And people have already demonstrated that they're more than happy to use smartphones as controllers, by downloading games and playing them.

Yeah, but when you play them you are looking down at the same surface that the game is on. Its different when you are looking up at a different screen. I tried this out a few years back with an ipod touch and a vid cable and I found the games unplayable.

You can do that today, with AirPlay mirroring. It's not caught on.

I feel like there hasn't really been a huge push behind it, though. Apple has never really promoted uses like that for gaming.

if Apple makes apps available for the Apple TV and can nail the user experience, they might really have something

Completely agree, but the Apple TV interface as it stands is atrocious. To be fair, this is a problem with any remote-to-TV interface, as I've yet to see any platform really come close to nailing it, but there are a ton of issues that should have never escaped internal testing.

I think it is a little unfair to oversimplify the Ouya to just indicating "people were indeed interested in a cheap console that plays phone games on their TV." In addition, one of Ouya's biggest draws was its openness which Google and Apple will have a harder time competing with than just releasing a cheap console with better polish.

You really think many people care about openness? People care about $99 consoles, and $1 games.

As someone who purchased the Ouya during their kickstarter, the openness was a huge deal to me. It's the same thing that makes me long for a Valve produced Steambox. Give me something that I can tear apart (both hardware and software) and do my own thing with it.

My take on this, and maybe I'm wrong, is that Apple and Google have some really cool knives in development, and they're hoping to succeed with them when they jump into the long-running console industry gunfight.

Bringing knives to a nerf-gun fight.

"Google has now set its sights on making its own Android-based video game console. The kicker? This is supposed to be in response to Apple doing the very same thing."

Who knew Apple would ever have an Android-based device?


>I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

Nice one.

It is definitely in response to Apple but also more likely they are seeing OUYA and GameStick (also amazon but no console yet) make their own App stores outside of Play! and they want to give developers options to take their Android games to the TV but also not lose out on that bank. They have to now that OUYA and Apple are doing this. It will lead to cool things though, controller ready games and multiplatform gaming/everywhere gaming on remote screens everywhere where as console gaming is stuck at home only for longer sessions/deeper gaming.

Apple announced their controller standard as well so we will see more and more iOS games come out that support the controller.

I have been saying this same thing for about 2 years now- the age of consoles is almost over. A Sony/MS box is not going to be the thing that delivers your living room entertainment, it will be a mobile device, ipad, or set top box from that same ecosystem.

Disc based games need to die but Sony/MS won't let them quite yet. Android/Apple are coming into the living room gaming arena from a completely different perspective that fits better into the current times. 100% downloadable, integrated with your smart phone / tablet, no more 5 year product cycles, etc. The advantages for being able to just ignore 3 generations of past consoles and come up with something completely new are huge.

Now we just need to see what the Steam Box is going to do.

Disc based games need to die but Sony/MS won't let them quite yet.

No, the gamer demographic won't let them die.

Microsoft had a push in the right direction with the moves they were experimenting with for the Xbox One: unfortunately, they had to backpedal on them because people were too outraged.

I disagree. MS didn't explain the value prop well and weren't courageous enough to take a stand. If they wanted to get rid of discs, they should've done so. Discs and downloadable content are two completely different paradigms. It's no doubt that MS wants to go the Steam route, but by mixing the "rules" for downloadable content with physical discs, they made a huge error.

Gamers didn't see the XB1 as a move towards disc-less consoles. They saw it as additional rules to their current disc-based paradigm.

Removing HDDs and optical drives from laptops was a bold and risky move by Apple, but it worked. MS had the chance to show leadership in consoles, but chose to play both sides instead.

Exactly. MS failed in the PR battle. Completely and miserably failed. They had a great idea and its unfortunate they caved in so easily.

A disc-free iOS game costs $0.99 to, usually at most, $19.99. A disc-free xbox game costs $59.99 for as long as possible; MS doesn't discount prices on digital games very frequently.

The "gamer demographic" was upset because they felt like something was being taken away (easy used game sales and purchases) without any clear benefit in return (same old prices). Making them out to be luddites who don't want to get with the disc-free times is unfair.

An example: A digital copy of Darksiders II is $59.99 on XBox Live (http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Darksiders-II/66ac...), and a physical copy is $16.99 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Darksiders-II-Xbox-360/dp/B0056WJA30/r...). Darksiders II came out nearly a year ago, and MS still charges as if it were a brand-new game.

Google's going to manufacture smart watches and consoles?

Another wannabe-knee-jerk-lets-copy-Apple product from Google. Why am I not surprised.

Apple still haven't even released a console and Apple apologists are already quick to jump on the "Apple invented everything under the sun" train. Why am I not surprised?

If anything, it's Apple that's copying others here.

You're right. Google's going to be first to market by releasing crappy, half-baked beta products and Apple's going to "copy" them.

Forbes never sees anything coming, or even stuff already here. We should stop paying attention to them.

If (when) Google develops the console, they are developing the software for it as well. What is stopping Ouya, Roku or Samsung from integrating this directly into their hardware and circumvent the need for an additional box altogether? This is not a console war between Apple and Google, more competition between Apple and Android since I think again the big winner will be Samsung here. Also its not a war but just a continuation of what's going on in the mobile space.

The real market opportunity is games that are fun.

You do not need to realistically model blood and brain-matter splattering or how sweaty arm-hair behaves on athletes in order to have fun.

And it's not a hardcore vs. casual dichotomy, either. Exploitative in-game purchases in casual games are as bad as all the bloody war games.

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