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It looks like Google is about to make Android TV even messier

If you already don't really understand Android TV as a whole, it's only about to get more confusing.

Published onMay 6, 2020

Disney Plus Android TV

We’ve known for a while now that Google is poised to drop a new streaming dongle that will help it better compete against Roku and Amazon. However, now we have news (via Protocol) that Google might be reformatting and even rebranding Android TV in tandem.

On paper, Android TV is awesome: a fully-featured mobile operating system existing in your TV with access to thousands of applications via the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, a combination of poor adoption by television manufacturers as well as consumers caring more about content than apps has made ATV stagnant.

According to industry insiders speaking with Protocol, Google might be giving ATV a new feel and look for its upcoming self-made streaming device. The reformatting will give users easier access to content and downplay the idea of apps. This could make Android TV (if it even keeps that name, as we’ve heard it might not) even messier than it already is.

Why is Android TV lagging behind the competition?

google chromecast shield tv roku remote

One would assume that Android TV would be everywhere since it’s backed by one of the world’s most successful companies. However, only a certain number of television manufacturers work with Google on releasing ATV-powered products and there’s no first-party streaming product for the operating system.

According to Protocol’s sources, Google wants to fix the latter of those hurdles with its own streaming stick. We only have rumors so far, but we expect the device to look like a Chromecast but come with a remote. It might be branded as a Nest device and Android TV might be swapped to Google TV, but either way, Google will finally offer a product itself that will directly compete with the Rokus and Apple TVs of the industry.

Related: The best Android TV boxes you can buy

Unfortunately, this will also mean Google will be competing with the very manufacturers it’s tried to woo to ATV over the years. Those manufacturers that did sign on haven’t been able to use competitor products that are also based on Android, which means (predominantly) not using Amazon Fire TV.

Essentially, Google’s asked these OEMs to sacrifice sales by sticking only with Android TV, and is now turning around and going up against them in the market. How many of those OEMs do you think will continue to use Android after that?

Ultimately, Google is probably too late

google logo G at ces 20201

Let’s assume, for now, that Google does release a Nest-branded device that features a rebranding of Android TV called Google TV. This will make it much easier for consumers to understand what they are buying, but what consumers are even left that aren’t already devoted to Roku, Amazon, or Apple?

What will most likely happen here is Google will reformat Android TV, jump into an already-established market too late in the game, flounder, and then end up with an even bigger mess than it already has with ATV on its own. Classic Google.

Related: The best media streaming devices you can buy

Meanwhile, the OEMs with which Google used to work will abandon ATV and jump to Roku or Amazon, further diminishing the operating system’s market share.

And to think, this could have all been avoided if Google made the original Chromecast more like a Roku when it first launched with a physical remote and powered by Android TV. Sigh.

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