14th Jul 2017

In a world where online video streaming via mobile is on the up-and-up, and both manufacturers and developers are responding to the popularity surge by bringing mobile devices in line, with larger screens and faster streaming capability, the news from the street is delivering a short, but relevant reminder that TV is being eyed by Google.

The news comes in the form of industry rumours that Alphabet, a collection of companies, the largest of which is Google, is about to rename Google Mobile Service (GMS), its mobile apps and API platform, to Google TV Services (GTVS), which would imply that the company’s focus is not going to be solely mobile in the future.

Why has Google moved its core focus to Android TV?

According to industry specialists, Google’s approach to TV has changed over the past couple of years, given the slow uptake of operators due to, what is thought to be, the fact that Google wanted too much control of the home screen and were rigid in their inclusion of channels and features. It appears that now Google are happier to allow operators to maintain their branding and have relaxed the rules in terms of content placement.

During the last few months, a surge in interest for Google’s Smartphone-to-interactive TV OS Android among operators has been happening, with an estimated 75% of video service providers having an Android Open Source Project or Android TV on their radar, according to a recent study commissioned by Irdeto and carried out by Ovum.

Some experts are concerned about security issues in the open software, but others believe that security concerns were ‘almost non-existent’.

What are the benefits and concerns of Android TV for operators?

It has been noted by industry professionals that Google’s approach is a revolutionary one, as it addresses web-company thinking in the TV marketplace. Android TV development, particularly project run times, is set to become much faster, as legacy middle platform development typically takes more than 12 months. In turn, this will lead to greater cost efficiencies, while continuing to meet the ever-increasing demands of the consumer.

However, some professionals warn against the ‘dangers’ of entering into business with the web giant, whose data-gathering expertise could launch a rival service. One expert cites a specific concern about rule-changing, says that ‘nobody knows in which direction Google is going in the future,’ and giving an example about the movement of the YouTube app ‘front and centre’, which would clearly be damaging.

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