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Summary:

Google’s mystery device has been unveiled by The Wall Street Journal as a Sonos-like platform for wirelessly streaming music around the home. But the most important thing is that Google is moving beyond software to making a branded hardware device of its own.

The Sonos system eliminates wires, and integrates a variety of music sources.

A few days ago, Stacey Higginbotham pointed to an FCC filing from Google indicating that the search giant was testing out some sort of mystery entertainment device that would rely on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radio frequencies to connect with other devices around the home. Now, thanks to The Wall Street Journal, we have more details about what that mystery device actually is.

According to the WSJ, the device is “a home-entertainment system that streams music wirelessly throughout the home and would be marketed under the company’s own brand.” It’s reportedly been developed over the last few years from within Google’s Android unit, and could possibly stream other media (like video?) to connected devices as well. But to me, the whole thing sounds a whole heck of a lot like what Sonos already does.

Of course, what’s most significant about the story isn’t the type of device that Google is developing, but that it’s considering making hardware at all. Up until this point, Google’s Android unit has developed software that it offers up to consumer electronics manufacturers and lets them do the actual device making. That’s worked for Android mobile phones, tablets and its Google TV devices.

But with the development of Google’s wireless streaming device, as well as its pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility, it appears the company is shifting away from a pure software play to building its own branded hardware as well. Whether or not that’s a smart strategy remains to be seen — the consumer electronics world is notoriously cut-throat, with low margins and intense competition between device makers. That said, having its own hardware capabilities could enable Google to gain a little bit more control over its own destiny, as it positions its Android software and devices against Apple’s vast iOS platform and ecosystems being developed by CE makers like Samsung.

  1. If true, this confuses me a bit. Google is not a CE company. They do not provide the level of end user support consumers expect. How does a music player fit into their core “data gathering to improve search” business. Maybe I’m too myopic and maybe the acquisition of MMI will help, but right now it seems like one more distraction from their core business (Wave, Buzz, Google TV, Chrome OS…). Gotta give them credit for trying new things, but I just don’t see how it fits into a larger vision other than simply to compete with the likes of Apple on a hardware level. Maybe others have an idea how this fits into the Google plan.

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  2. Ahhhh another soon to be shelved project from the wayward folks over at Google! Hey guys quit thinking me too dev and start getting back to shifting paradigms!

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  3. Wow don’t you guys remeber when google bought SageTV? This has nothing to do with Motorola, this is all SageTV…

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  4. It’ll be interesting to see how they leverage data from search and YouTube to sell and recommend music and video.

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  5. Ric, You are right on…

    I am a sonos owner and everything is easy. If google uses wifi similar to squeezebox and do not support it like all of their other ideas, they are dead before they begin.

    Also, what’s the logic in entering an $8B market? If I were Google, I’d concentrate on how I am going to own search advertising in a mobile world. They clearly have not perfected that and the growth rate of mobile would scare the crap out of me if my revenue was tied to the box.

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