Thursday, January 05, 2012

Reality bites: Google replaces Intel with Marvell for Google TV

Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal reported that Marvell has replaced Intel as the lead chipset supplier for Google TV. The deal is non-exclusive, but the bigger news is that Google has replaced Intel's X86 architecture with ARM, which is supported by Broadcom, nVidia, Samsung and Texas Instruments, along with Marvell and others. When the first Google TV devices were released by Logitech and Sony, it was clear that they were far too expensive for the market; for example, while Apple was selling Apple TV for $99 (U.S.) and Roku's set-top boxes were priced at $99 or less, the Logitech Revue was launched at $399. In order for Sony and Logitech to be competitive, they had to drastically cut prices and, in Logitech's case, take huge losses. (Logitech subsequently abandoned Google TV.)

By switching from the Intel architecture to ARM, Google TV's licensees will gain a less-expensive, lower-power platform that can compete with set-top boxes from Apple, Roku and others on both price and performance. They'll also get a choice of multiple processor vendors; for example, even though Marvell is the lead partner, there's nothing keeping Samsung from using its own ARM-based processors in its HDTVs, Blu-Ray players and set-top boxes.

In short, this is the move that Google should have made from the beginning. With lower-priced set-top boxes, the ability to run apps and an operating system based on a more modern version of Android, Google TV 2.0 should be significantly more successful than the original version. At the very least, it has a chance for survival, instead of being "dead on arrival".
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