FCC documents suggest that both Asus and Netgear (s NTGR) are working on Google (s GOOG) TV-powered set-top boxes, according to multiple media reports. The devices haven’t officially been announced yet, but it would make sense for both companies to introduce the hardware at the CES in Las Vegas in January. That means that consumers could be able to buy Google TV hardware from as many as seven different CE manufacturers in 2013.
News that Asus was working on a Google TV device hit the net late last week when Engadget unearthed an FCC filing for a somewhat mysterious Google TV dongle called Qube, as well as some apps on Google Play that function as remote controls for something dubbed “Asus Qube with Google TV.”
Engadget first suggested that the Qube could be a Roku streaming stick-like HDMI or MHL stick, but the Verge instead reported that the Qube is a media streamer set to replace the ill-fated Nexus Q, with the adapter shown on the FCC site only being part of the puzzle.
Either way, any participation of Asus could be significant for Google TV: The company understands how to turn products into success stories that in turn give entire product categories a lift – something Google TV desperately needs. Asus basically defined netbooks with its EEE PC, and the Asus-made Nexus 7 is arguably the first successful Android tablet aside from Amazon’s (s AMZN) Kindle Fire.
If the Asus Q is a bit of a mystery product, then we know a lot more about the Netgear NeoTV Prime, aka GTV100. FCC documents for the product were unearthed Saturday, and the device looks like a typical Google TV streaming box, complete with double-sided remote control and IR blaster. The remote control pictured in the FCC filing features a total of six branded buttons for services like Amazon, YouTube and HBO Go, and Engadget has since learned that the box is currently in beta testing.
Netgear joining the Google TV bandwagon is an interesting story as well. The company briefly struck a partnership with Roku in 2010, which was broken off just a few months later, and then proceeded to make its own NeoTV line of streaming boxes. However, we were underwhelmed when we tested the NeoTV 200 earlier this year. Netgear moving to the Google TV platform could be a sign that second tier device makers are realizing that it’s not worth it to invest in the development of your own, proprietary platform – and possibly signal that Google TV is slowly picking up steam as the default choice for hardware makers, much like Android did in the past in the handset space.