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Apple, Amazon Will Survive Android TV -- but Will Chromecast?


With the recent leak of Android TV, Google appears to undo all the headway it has made with the Chromecast against media center competitors.

Three and a half years ago, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) launched an assault against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV and Roku boxes in a grand attempt to control our living rooms and finally advance the technology of cable boxes. Adding an interactive overlay on top of live and streaming content, Google TV boxes and equipped sets aimed to create an interface that allowed for quick searches, painless Web browsing, and real-time info to work in conjunction with the content being viewed.
But recognizing the risk of such an endeavor to their powerfully antiquated business models, NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA), ABC (NYSE:DIS), Fox (NASDAQ:NWS), CBS (NYSE:CBS), and Hulu blocked Google TV devices from accessing their Web content. Add a misguided marketing campaign, needlessly expensive machines, failed partnerships with manufacturers, and boastful comments made by then-CEO Eric Schmidt, which only underscored poor performance and sales, and Google TV became one of the biggest tech flops of the 21st century.
Cut to 2013, and Chromecast debut made the Google TV fiasco a distant memory.
At $35 with a dead-simple interface and compatibility with Android, iOS, Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Mac machines, the Chromecast clicked with customers in a way that even the Apple TV couldn't do. Third-party support soon came flooding in, and after a reported "millions" of units sold, the unassuming HDMI stick is the media-center market's best bet at coaxing cable customers to finally cut the cord.
But all that success could be at risk after a recent leak showed that Google is attempting to revamp the failed Google TV experience as Android TV.
As reported by The Verge, Android TV reverts to the archaic model of a remote-controlled set-top box that Chromecast's "second screen experience" seemed to make obsolete. With familiar streaming services and on-screen menus navigated by click-click-clicking a remote, Android TV will enter an overcrowded marketplace lacking any notable difference or killer feature to set it apart from the dozens of other capable media centers.
Considering Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) new media box Fire TV, which actually runs an Android OS, and the very possible revamp of Apple TV later this year -- not to mention the media center functionality present in PlayStation (NYSE:SNE) and Xbox systems -- Android TV appears to undo all the headway it has made against the competition at the worst, most dunderheaded time.
As if launching a redundant device wasn't bad enough, introducing a second media-center model will likely confuse many customers who will conflate Android TV with the Chromecast device and -- most regrettably -- Google TV. Developers will be forced to design for two interfaces, splitting the time they could be designing for the already-popular Chromecast; failure to do so will grant the Android TV the same disastrous fate as Google TV and threaten the growing support for Chromecast.
The conceit behind Google's obsession with the Google TV model is still a mystery, and it's even more mysterious why it would potentially squander the lightning-in-the-bottle success it has seen with the Chromecast. The point is, the Android TV leaks fail to show any reason why it should exist, and it's not Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire TV that are under threat.
The only thing in jeopardy is Chromecast.

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