MIPS Technologies announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Tuesday its plan to develop a new line of set-top boxes with Android inside.
The new product base provides the company’s OEM customers and partnerswith a viable Android platform ready for individual customization fordigital home devices such as set-top boxes, Blu-ray disc players, digital TVsand VoIP products.
“MIPS is driving the movement of Android beyond the mobile device. Inthe mobile market, MIPS has focused on ARM. But it has not yetconquered the home entertainment market,” Kevin Kitagawa, director ofstrategic marketing for MIPS Technologies, told LinuxInsider.
Unlike the iPhone, the Android is not tied to a single vendor or hardware set.Thus, Android in set top boxes and other entertainment outlets cancreate potential.y a much larger market for the Android OS, heexplained.
“So having Android in DVRs (digital video recorders), STBs (set-top boxes) and other devices shows MIPSbranching out to a new audience. It has a new dynamic for developers,”he said.
Android uses the Linux kernel, and Linux itself has come a long way taking over as much as 30 to 35 percent of the embedded design market share, according to Bill Weinberg,principal consultant and independent analyst for Linux Pundit.
“Android represents — first for the mobile market and now for devicesbeyond the mobile space — an applications platform. These devices arenow requiring the ability to run third-party devices from sourcesother than other OEMs,” Weinberg told LinuxInsider.
Android is bringing new competition and more development choices toproduct makers. The Android versus Linux versus the world ofproprietary OSes represents the state of the art in application-readyplatforms, he said.
Though Android is based on a Linux foundation, it provides more flexibility, added Kitagawa.
“It brings about a set of software down to the Linux kernel. WithGoogle behind it, it brought together the whole market,” he said.
One big difference between the two systems is that Android, as aplatform, is a better content delivery vehicle. A traditional set-topbox device is typically a standalone device built with more concerned regarding control, noted Weinberg.
Android potentially lets set-top boxes run applications withoutmodification that originally were designed for mobile devices. Forexample, you could write the application for an ARM phone and run itunchanged on a MIPs-based unit, he explained.
“When you get into content delivery, it changes the value of thedevice,” said Weinberg.
MIPS officials decided at the start of last year that they needed tospeed up their time to market, according to Kitagawa. The result was apush to take the lead. The set-top box announcement is the firstimplementation of that new strategy.
“The devices are new but also rely on the market applications we’vebeen servicing for several years. Historically, we relied on ourcustomers to handle the software,” he said.