Reports earlier this month already indicated that Google was working on a set-top box to bring the Internet to the television, but now new details have surfaced that show the Mountain View giant isn’t working alone. According to the New York Times, Intel, Sony and Logitech will all coordinate with Google to bring an Android-powered set-top box to market.
Like the A-Team, each player will bring its own contributions to the table. Google will supply a modified version of its Android software and a new Chrome-based browser, Intel will provide its Atom chips, and Sony will produce either the hardware, or potentially, build it into an upcoming television. The Times even indicated that Sony might spin off a new brand for the venture. The trio tapped Logitech to build a remote for the device, which will have a full QWERTY keyboard built in.
Because the box will use the open Android platform, Google hopes developers will be able to take it and develop TV apps that would let users surf, tweet, browse pictures and more from the couch, with an interface purpose-built for the TV. Of course, access to Internet TV like YouTube and Hulu would also be staples.
Google’s interest in television apparently stems from its own need for a commercial delivery platform for Google TV ads. Google currently pushes ads sold through the program through a handful of cable and satellite providers, but an Android TV platform would allow Google to cut out the middle man, gain more control, and provide additional targeting for advertisers.
Existing competitors in the space range from existing hardware like Roku’s box and giants like Microsoft’s Xbox 360, to upcoming competitors like D-Link’s Boxee Box and Syabas’ Popbox. Google’s major advantage in the space should be the flexibility of user-developed apps, although Boxee’s plugin functionality could provide similar abilities.
The Times reports that Google should be released a software developer kit to get the ball rolling on applications shortly, and that an initial version of the software could be available as soon as this summer.