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.