At Google I/O, amongst new tablets, new operating systems and extreme sports demos, Google announced the Nexus Q, a new device for the living room that describes itself as a social streaming media player.
The Nexus Q is clearly out to compete with the Apple TV, a product that Apple majorly refreshed in late 2010 with AirPlay, a feature to stream media from one Apple device straight to a TV. However, while it seems like a product that only exists to let Google cover that particular base, it does signify another product joining the “pure” Google Nexus experience.
The Nexus Q
The Nexus Q is a streaming media player for your TV. It’s Google’s second attempt at claiming the living room and competing with Apple and other companies with established products in the space.
The Nexus Q works with Google Play and YouTube on your Android device to stream content to your TV in a similar way to Apple’s AirPlay, so instead of storing content on the device, everything is streamed. However, content is not streamed from the device; instead, the Nexus Q fetches the content from Google Play or YouTube itself, so your Android device acts as little more than a remote control. Presumably, that also means you’re limited in what you can stream, rather than being able to do so with any content that you can playback on iOS on an Apple TV.
In a similar fashion to iTunes DJ, the Nexus Q is meant to empower a social experience, so multiple people can contribute to the playlist of items making their way onto the Nexus Q. This means you can hold a party for all your Android-loving friends and allow full control of what’s playing to your guests, so you never put on an unpopular track.
The big differentiator between the Nexus Q and its rivals is its price. It costs nearly three hundred dollars, and that’s not a typo. Costing $200 more than the Apple TV, the Q’s premium price tag doesn’t look too favourable against other, cheaper devices with similar feature sets.
Part of that price is attributed to the device being manufactured in the United States, suggesting Google is targeting the market who seem happy to pay more for their devices if they are manufactured in one’s own country. Unfortunately, however, this fact will likely translate into high prices around the world, even in countries who don’t necessarily see more work being available in their country by paying more for the device.
A Nice Step Forward
The Nexus Q is the third current Nexus device, and as such offers the pure Android experience. Joining the Galaxy Nexus phone and the Nexus 7 tablet, the Nexus Q adds one more device into an ecosystem, making it much easier to live in without playing host to the ideals and objectives of third-party Android makers too.
As a device alone, the Nexus Q is, at least conceptually, a good one. It’s pretty much AirPlay for Android, but the social aspect seems much more seamless and much easier to setup than iTunes DJ is.
Ultimately, Betteridge’s Law of Headlines (‘any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no”‘) proves to be correct once again. $299 is a high entry cost and will act as a barrier for many Android device owners because it’s just too expensive, potentially costing more than a user’s phone or tablet did. And yet, let’s face it, many would probably still buy the Apple TV if it cost three times more than it does now.