Google is set to release its first device powered by Android TV – a platform that has been built to offer both a smart TV and gaming experience. Nexus Player has been developed as part of a collaboration with ASUS and will feature music, games, TV shows, movies and other video content.
As standard, Nexus Player will come with a basic remote control (which will offer voice search capabilities), although a gamepad will also be available as an optional extra.
Similar to a typical set-top box, Nexus Player will connect to a TV via HDMI. However, unlike more established TV services, content will be delivered over the internet, with the device featuring Wi-Fi connectivity.
In a blog post announcing Nexus Player, Google were keen to stress the product’s all-round entertainment capabilities.
“We’re releasing the first device running Android TV: Nexus Player, a collaboration with ASUS, is a streaming media player for movies, music and videos,” the company said. “It’s also a first-of-its-kind Android gaming device.”
Nexus Player is available to pre-order from the Play Store in the United States, and is expected to ship from 3rd November. It is likely that the media streaming and gaming device will be available in Europe and throughout the wider world, although no official information about an international roll-out has been given.
Within the Android community, there has been a small degree of scepticism about the prospects of international availability for Nexus Player. This has largely been driven by the fact that Google’s previous media streaming product, Nexus Q, never made it outside of the US.
The failure of Nexus Q was due to a very specific set of circumstances. Priced at $299, the device was not well received, with the general perception being that it offered very poor value for money.
Google ended up giving Nexus Q away free of charge to customers who had placed a pre-order. Perhaps inevitably given the circumstances, the product was eventually shelved entirely.
By contrast, Nexus Player has been designed to take on Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV. It is therefore a crucial product for Google from a strategic perspective, and given the competition, it will also be priced much lower than Nexus Q was.
With any product that has been designed to stream music, movies and TV shows, the acquisition of international rights can prove to be complex. As a result, it is normal for the release of devices like Nexus Player to be staggered across different territories.
In the case of Chromecast, Google’s more basic media streaming offering, a European release did not happen until almost eight months after the device went on sale in the US.
As far as Nexus Player is concerned, it is possible that an international roll-out will begin much sooner than the eight months it took for Chromecast to be made available outside the US.
In addition to support for native Android TV apps, Nexus Player also includes the same Google Cast technology that is used by Chromecast.
It is therefore possible that some of the structures and rights deals necessary for Nexus Player to be adapted to international markets are already in place, given the existing global availability of products like Chromecast and services such as Google Play.
As Nexus Player will only be available in the US initially, obviously no details have been released about worldwide pricing. Although by looking at rival products, it is possible to get a very good idea as to how much Nexus Player is likely to cost.
Apple TV and Fire TV are sold for $99 in the US and £79 in the United Kingdom. Both products are also on sale in mainland Europe for €99 (although the availability of Fire TV is somewhat limited on the continent, at present).
Therefore, given Nexus Player will cost $99 in the United States, it is fairly likely that it will be priced at £79 in the UK and €99 in continental Europe.
Like Nexus Player, Fire TV also has an optional gamepad. Amazon currently sells this controller for $39.99 in the US, £34.99 in the UK and €39,99 in continental Europe.
It would seem that Google has looked at Fire TV’s pricing structure closely when preparing to launch its new multimedia device, as the Nexus Player gamepad will also sell for $39.99 in the US. Google’s controller will probably follow the same pricing structure, costing £34.99 in the UK and €39,99 in continental Europe.