Blog Post

Motorola: No Google Android-Powered Set-top Box

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Last week, I blogged about the au Box, an Internet-video friendly über set-top box developed by Motorola (s MOT) . My blog post was based on a story in Information Week. The publication reported that the multi-featured set-top box that can play back DVDs and CDs would use Google’s (s GOOG) Android OS. I had heard something similar in October 2008 as well. A Motorola spokeswoman got in touch with me and categorically denied that Motorola was building an Android-based set-top box. She pointed out that the au Box, which currently is shipping to Japanese carrier KDDI, uses Motorola’s KreaTV platform that is based on a flavor of Linux different from Android. The au Box allows mobile customers to transfer content between their home entertainment systems and their mobile devices.

When I asked about Motorola’s Andorid-based set-top boxes, she said: “We have no plans for an Android-based set top box.” Just to make sure, I emailed and asked her if she meant that the original Information Week story was incorrect and that at this time Motorola isn’t working on an Android-based set-top box, either for KDDI or for others. Her response: “correct.”

7 Responses to “Motorola: No Google Android-Powered Set-top Box”

  1. well Android is based on linux ………………and it doesn’t make sense to make setup box based on linux when so many exiting software are available in standard linux repositories (unbuntu/debian has 28,000 software you install via single click) ………..actually i was thinking of making in kiosk my self was evaluating making a kiosk device myself ….andriod developers on irc thought that i would be better of standard linux ………..only thing existing open souce projects for embedded Linux lack marketing (mobilin, puppy linux , moko , Ubuntu remix, QT toolkit ) ………………………..bottom line is android is might be good certain categories of mobile devices (under powered arm based mobiles ) ……………but nettops , netbooks and there would no need for android on mobiles with Atom processors

    • Actually, there is a difference. Linux is only the kernel. A vanilla linux distribution is too generic to be used as a common platform for this target market and still ensure compatibility.

      Android adds a ‘common communication and application layer’ on top of a vanilla OS kernel which is critical to be able to develop an application targetted for communication devices . When you move from one ‘device’ to another, the following major components change:

      a) Form factor (UI scaling, HID, etc.)
      b) Memory management
      c) External processing power (GPUs etc)
      d) Media handling
      e) Graphics
      f) Application lifecycle management
      g) storage

      The android SDK helps mask the developer from having to redesign the above and therefore provides significant value add over the OS.

  2. Too bad Motorola will not be pioneering with Android in this way. I believe that the first company that does make the Android set top box will be proving themselves as a major electronics player (in the same fashion that HTC did with the G1). The door is still open for a company to come along and amaze us with such an innovation. On a long enough time line, the internet and the television will combine.

    – Jason Nadaf

    • I totally agree and I think there is a big opportunity here. By the way I can understand Motorola’s position: the company is looking for ways to focus on developing handsets that people want. I think that makes sense — in the short term.