Aug 17 AT 6:41 AM Alberto Vildosola 22 Comments

Now that the dust has settled from the nuclear bomb that Google dropped on the tech world yesterday, it’s time to take a closer look at how Motorola could greatly improve some of Google’s products. Aside from having the ability to protect Android from patent trolls, Motorola is also a huge company with a lot of expertise in various sectors. One of those sectors is the set-top box business, which as it turns out, Google is trying to break into with its Google TV product. Can Motorola give Google TV the push it needs to be successful in the living room? Let’s find out.

Current Google TV situation

Google TV is not doing very well right now, to say the least. With both Logitech and Sony aggressively slashing prices just to be able to sell their Google TV devices. In fact, Logitech is not only not making money from its Revue device, it’s losing it. As returns of the device were higher than sales last quarter. Ouch.

If a company without Google’s deep pockets was running Google TV, the product would be sold or killed by now. Only a company like Google, with its army of engineers and boatload of cash is able to keep such a disappointing product alive for this long.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing particularly wrong with Google TV. It’s just that we — specifically media and cable companies — weren’t ready for it. Google TV was dead before it was even released because content owners would never agree to put their content on Google TV. No content, no happy customers. To top it all of, the platform faced the same issues many platforms face at launch. Lack of third-party apps, missing features, unpolished user interface and buggy software.

But Google is not giving up. The company has been working on the next version of Google TV for a while now, which should fix many of the issues the platform has. For example, the Android Market will bring support for third-party apps, while the whole OS will supposedly be more intuitive and responsive. These are some very good improvements in some very critical places but it might not be enough to bring Google TV back from the dead. That’s where Motorola comes in.

Motorola has the power to revive Google TV

If you look underneath your TV right now, chances are you’ll find a big, bulky set-top box sitting there with a Motorola logo on it. Motorola is currently the number one manufacturer of set-top boxes. Everyone from Comcast to Verizon has at some time provided their customers with a set-top box or router made by Motorola. And that kind of market power is exactly what Google TV needs to conquer the TV world.

But there’s one more thing Motorola has that not many companies have: a strong relationship with TV operators. Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha even took the chance to remind everyone about it yesterday, saying:

There is great convergence between the mobile world and content that comes to the home through set-top boxes. Working with the carriers, we’ll be able to accelerate that convergence which will excite customers.Sanjay JhaMotorola CEO

Clearly, Sanjay wants to bring the TV to our mobile devices and vice versa. And what better way to do that than by using Google TV. If both Google and Motorola somehow manage to convince TV operators that Google TV is the future of TV, we could very well see the platform take off faster than we can reach for our TV remote.

Docks and Ice Cream Sandwich were meant for each other

With that said, there’s a chance that companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable will dump Motorola for a competitor like Cisco. After all, ISPs and Google aren’t exactly best buddies. In that case, Motorola and Google will have to choose another route to get into our living rooms. And that road is smart docks.

As we told you back in January, devices like the Motorola Atrix 4G and its many accessories are the future of Android. When connected to each of these docks, the Atrix 4G automatically changes its interface according to what it’s supposed to be. In your room, it becomes an alarm clock. In your car, it transforms into a GPS device. And in your living room, it turns into a media center. Or at least it tries to.

Motorola’s smart docks might work for things like an alarm clock and a GPS device, but when it comes to the TV experience, the company’s lackluster entertainment center app leaves you hungry for more features and capabilities. Instead of just launching a simple app, a much better option would be to switch the phone over to Google TV mode. In order to do that, Google TV and the phone version of Android need to be based on the same source code. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Google plans to do with Ice Cream Sandwich.

We have already seen proof that devices running Ice Cream Sandwich will be able to switch on the fly between a phone and a tablet mode. One of the first phones to do just that will be the ASUS Padfone, which when inserted into a tablet, will switch over to the tablet version of Android. If that’s possible, what’s stopping Google from doing the same for Google TV?

In that case, a cheap dock and an Ice Cream Sandwich-powered phone will eventually remove the need to buy a separate Google TV box. While at the same time, it could turn every single Android user out there into a potential Google TV user. Easily making Google TV one of the most popular smart TV platforms.

Android@Home to wrap it all in

Surrounding Google’s plan to take over your TV is an even bigger plan to control every device in your home, from light bulbs to microwaves. Android@Home, as Google has named the initiative, wants to embed Android in each and every electronic device inside your home.

Google sees a future where everything in our homes, from the garage door to the mirrors, is connected to the web. And inside every little device that’s connected to the web, Android — and as result Google’s products — will be there waiting for you. At the center of this network of Android devices will be your Android phone. From which you’ll be able to control the stove, the washing machine and even the windows. If you need an audiovisual representation of what I’m trying to describe, I’ll leave you with this video from Corning, the makers of Gorilla Glass. Now imagine everything on that video is running Android. Yes, even the car.

Alberto is a college student living somewhere between Miami, Sarasota and the World Wide Web. Although a former iPhone owner, Alberto is now a proud Android enthusiast. You can follow Alberto on Twitter and Google+ for his thoughts unworthy of an article.

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    Great article Alberto! Video put it all together at the end. I’m sure there were more reasons other than patents that lead google to buy motorola. The technology and hardware in addition to the patents ,add in the fact they were headed downward fast and it was a no brainer. Google ftw

  • Kamil

    Your graphics in the top of site are awesome as much as article :)

    • Angie Strickland


  • Lucian Armasu

    I’ve just realized that one of the reasons the Android Market didn’t come to Google TV earlier was because they are using an Intel Atom chip, instead of ARM chips, and although in theory the VM should take care of that by itself, in practice things aren’t as smooth, which is why we still can’t see a Honeycomb tablet with an Atom chip.

    But my point is they’ve probably wasted all this time trying to make the Android apps work better on Atom for Google TV, when they should’ve gone the opposite direction – use ARM chips from day one. Those expensive Atom chips will make Google TV’s to never drop under $200 (sure, Revue sells for $99 now, but that’s a fire-sale anyway, not a for-profit sale).

    Also, Google should strive to turn Google TV into a “console platform”. Can you imagine all the new TV’s coming with Google TV built-in and with a chip like Tegra 3 inside? All they need is a few ports from other consoles such as PS3, or some ports of the new 3D games on Android, and they’re set. Tegra 3 may not have exactly the power of a PS3, but I’m guessing it’s pretty close, and next year’s chips will be around there.

  • Frankenstooge

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Google buy just the mobile device side of Moto? This is written as if the whole enchilada was consumed.

    • Interpol91

      Motorola Mobility isn’t just about smartphones and tablets. They make a lot of other products like the set tops.

  • Marcus

    I can’t wait for Android@home to fully adopt! And what about dsl boxes? Motorola has those too. My whole family has one.

  • Don Boogie

    Frankenstooge, I’m with you. I thought Google just bought Moto’s mobile phone division, which has nothing to do with the division that makes set top boxes.

    • Usman

      MMI DOES include the set top boxes.

  • Interpol91

    Great article! I’m definitely curious to see how Googarola leads to new advancements in Google’s products like Google TV. I loved the video at the end!

  • drone3

    Great article, i can’t see the set top boxes concept working it fly’s in the face of everything google believes in, the ICS dock on the other hand is the future no doubt (until they install those pico projectors into our phones) One more thing the Android@ home will fit perfectly with the 4home startup moto puchased last year. Exiting stuff!

  • Jorge

    I just bought the Revue, but I cant play all my media, thats sad (my movies are in MKV format)… what should I dO, return it or keep it? (I all ready install the Honeycomb beta version on it)

    • Clark Wimberly

      Have you tried setting up a media server? Im able to play virtually any file on my network because I run it all through a server called TVersity that can transcode on the fly. It works about 95% of the time, with the occasional file simply refusing to play (usually a weird coded or crazy HD bitrate).

      • Jorge

        Thanks Clark!… I will try it… I hope the media player (the one included on the REVUE) have this ability on the next google tv version, I have all my movies on one Western Digital external Hard Drive. (sorry about my english Im from Mexico, ARRIBA MEXICO JAJA!)

        • Clark Wimberly

          Yeah I was a bit disappointed by the fact that the media player did not just work out of the box, but using a media server has been a pretty decent solution. Really the only downside is sometimes my PC will be off and I need to power up just to watch some videos.

  • aa

    Well I like the idea, but in practice I don’t really want to unplug my phone, exit TV-mode just to check a SMS that I got.. And what if someone calls me, its just a bit too complicated.

    What I would like to see though, is further development of the laptop/tablet docks mentioned, especially getting rid of that webtop and just switch UI to the Honeycomb UI when docked.

  • Matt

    What a great article. Thank you!

  • SliestDragon

    Great read. I hope Google can keep GoogleTV alive. I really like the concept of it, but never got one due to the lack of polish in it’s current form. I’m sure they’ll get it right soon.

  • Kevin

    Verizon applauded them for joining together (Moto+Google) ! But it still goes against their competition indirectly.

  • nate

    Another really awesome thing that they could do with this merger is make it so that when the attic opens webtip mode it is actually chrome is rather than moto’s crap ware

  • vad00

    The last video it is very possible unfortunately the world will have to go though 10 more economic regressions , financial collapse, legislative revolution and one nuclear war, after all that, if something left, will end-up like this , until then the only innovation will be in the in front of a Judge and in the financial department that is all.
    Sorry world but your ruled by sharks and cold blooded “Business man” and this is requirement to have some name in this business, short “eat or be eaten”, Google raised up from all this somehow clean but you have to many enemy they will try to pull you down anyway possible, don,t give in to the $$$ temptation.

  • AndyNguyen36

    What an article! That video makes me optimistic about the future!