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A few days ago, Stacey Higginbotham pointed to an FCC filing from Google (s GOOG) 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(s MMI), 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 (s AAPL) vast iOS platform and ecosystems being developed by CE makers like Samsung.