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Summary:

Google TV may be getting ready to take the fight to Apple and Roku by allowing CE manufacturers to build pure streaming boxes without any cable TV integration. Vizio CTO Matt McRae told us that he expects these devices to surface later this year.

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Google TV may be getting ready to take on Roku and Apple TV with a pure streaming approach: Vizio CTO Matt McRae told me during an interview at CES that he expects Google TV devices with a focus on streaming apps to come out later this year. Asked about the future of Google TV, McRae said (on video below):

“You’re gonna see a plethora of new devices. Some will be probably pure OTT devices. Very small devices that just have an HDMI out and have a very simple remote control… that’s where you are gonna see things start to differentiate amongst not only products but different suppliers.”

He also hinted at the possibility of Vizio producing one of those devices to offer consumers multiple options for Google TV devices. McRae didn’t give any firm answer on when Vizio is going to start using Google TV as a platform for its own smart TVs, but said that it could eventually become “a mainstream platform” for the company. “We think it’s got legs,” he said.

In response to questions about its plans, Google offered this statement: “We are always talking with our partners to bring people more Google services to their TV.”

Current-generation Google TV companion devices all offer two HDMI ports: One to connect your cable set-top box to the Google TV device, and one to connect it to your TV. Google has in the past put a lot of emphasis on combining live TV with apps and online content, and execs have repeatedly insisted that Google TV devices aren’t meant to be used for cord cutting, but rather to complement your cable TV experience.

Ditching the HDMI input port for at least some upcoming Google TV devices would be a major departure from that strategy. It could help to make the Google TV experience less complex, and help to target consumers who are interested in a pure streaming experience.

This could also help to lift Google TV sales, as pure streaming devices have in the past done considerably better than Google TV companion boxes. Apple sold 5 million Apple TV units in its fiscal FY 2012, and Roku sold an estimated two million units last year. Google and its Google TV device partners haven’t released any sales numbers yet, but publicly available Google Play data suggests that there are still less than one million current-generation Google TV devices in use in the U.S.

Check out my full interview with McRae on Google TV:

  1. Quirkymomentum Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    If they go one step farther than Apple and allow regular Android Apps to run on the box, this will be a real game changer in set top boxes…

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    1. You can run regular apps on a Google TV device. It’s a side load away, however apps designed for touch do not work well. Converting to an Android app to a GTV device though is pretty simple.

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      1. arghh please make it easier for me!!! I’m frustrated by how few apps make it to GTV.

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  2. I think I just heard there was a VUDU app? :)

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  3. Did I just hear that there was a VUDU app? :)

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    1. U did indeed. Yawn.

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  4. I would love a streaming only google device.

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  5. What of the Nexus Q?

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  6. “Very small devices that just have an HDMI out and have a very simple remote control… that’s where you are gonna see things start to differentiate”

    How is that different than Apple TV?

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    1. @novatom: Apple TV has an input for a power adapter, USB, Optical audio out, HDMI out and ethernet.

      Reread that quote again. Notice the word ‘just’

      “Very small devices that just have an HDMI out and have a very simple remote control… that’s where you are gonna see things start to differentiate”

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  7. So what?

    Until there is something truely compelling I’m not very impressed. Having a Roku/Apple TV/small HDMI what streams “whatever” it doesn’t change much. Perhaps some competition? Having Netflix means no more runs to Blockbuster or maybe I don’t pay for a movie channel… Still some of most compelling content is coming from HBO/Showtime so maybe Netflix start distributing something no one else is distributing.

    Still what does EVERYONE that has a TV watch? Local channels, news, sports; basically anything “live”. None of these devices are taking that away from cable TV yet. So, we are all still stuck paying the cable companies.

    Yes, over-the-air broadcast is good, but unless you’re in a city, it rarely reaches homes. My home is 45 minutes outside San Francisco and I can’t get a single broadcast signal…. not like I live in the middle of nowhere!

    Once a year I get miffed at Comcast and switch to U-Verse… then switch back when U-Verse fails to impress. HBO just signed up for another 10 year agreement with the cable guys. If we are going to have a TV revolution, I’m not seeing it.

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  8. Streaming devices make good units to put in a kids room in place of a cable or DTV box, how about supporting pre720p tvs that dont have hdmi inputs? only one I think that does is ROKU ? and needs an ethernet port

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  9. if they were less expensive then i think more will buy it. I for one am love the sony google tv but i dont think its worth $200, $125ish tho I would buy it!

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    1. Vizio’s GTV is $99.

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  10. Combine this with http://www.chromemote.com and I’m there!

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