With the rollout of the Google TV 2.0 update bringing access to Android Market apps, Google’s Android-powered set-top box is starting to get more and more attention. GigaOM’s Janko Roettgers recently published a story regarding the potential for Kindle-fire like versions of the Google TV. In other words, the same way Amazon’s Android-powered Kindle UI and experience doesn’t resemble your typical Android device, perhaps companies will manufacture similar experiences for Google TV.
“I predict that we will eventually see one of the WDs or Netgears of the connected TV space switch to an Android code base, but without access to the Google TV ecosystem. It will be a box with a full browser, plenty of apps and access to a separate app market – the Kindle Fire of the living room.”
There is good reason to believe this might happen– the latest update brings the ability to install non-Android Market apps on Google TV (the same as Android smartphones and tablets). In fact, generic set-top boxes running Android (typically branded as Android TV) are already available on sites like Alibaba for around $100 on average. Most claim to run Android 2.2 and offer preinstalled apps, but obviously don’t have Market access.
Google is obviously fully aware of this possibility and Mario Queiroz, Google TV vice president of product, told Roettgers, “The most important thing is to prevent fragmentation”. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to imagine companies like Samsung and others producing Android-powered set-top boxes, especially when, unlike the tablet space, they aren’t facing an Apple dominated market, yet. More likely, according to Roettgers, is the possibility companies like Roku and Boxee drop their current development platform and adopt an Android code base, but lacking Android Market and the native Google experience, of course. There’s also always the chance for more reputable companies to take a cue from the mostly China-based manufacturers already selling unofficial Google TV devices on Alibaba.
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It certainly didn’t take long for Android vendors to start producing Honeycomb-powered tablets. There were even a ton of Android tablets on the market from little-known manufacturers before Google officially supported slates with Honeycomb and Roettgers expects the same to happen with Google TV following the 2.0 update. We’ll see in the coming months if we’re hit with an influx of cheap, Kindle Fire-like Google TVs.