The much-anticipated “Google TV” may be in the works, but a Swedish company has already won the race to the proverbial finish line with the world’s first Android-based TV.
Due to hit stores this fall, People of Lava’s Scandinavia is a fully interactive Internet TV that combines the functionality of an Android smartphone with that of a high-end, full-HD LED TV set, according to the company.
Following a beta-test phase this summer, the set will first be released in a 42-inch version, followed by 47- and 55-inch sizes. The 42-inch version will be priced between 2,000 euros (US$2,693) and 2,500 euros ($3,366) when it launches globally in September.
YouTube and Google Maps
Created in partnership with European design firm Designit, People of Lava’s Scandinavia incorporates materials never before used in a television, the company says, giving the device a deep gloss and tough durability.
Out-of-the-box Android TV applications it will feature include YouTube, Google Maps, Weather, Time, Calendar and a Webkit-based Internet browser. Also downloadable will be Facebook, Twitter, email and more, People of Lava says.
The Scandinavia TV will also feature a USB connection.
It will be the first TV to be built in Sweden for several decades.
Competing with Yahoo
People of Lava’s Scandinavia will compete head-on with Yahoo’s Connected TV, Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst with Parks Associates, told LinuxInsider.
“This says to me that there will certainly be very significant other players besides Yahoo” in the space, he noted.
That’s not too surprising, given that more than 20 percent of consumers are already watching TV shows online on at least a weekly basis, Scherf noted.
“It’s very much a mainstream activity,” he said. “We’ve found that providing access to online video and even user-generated video has very broad appeal.”
‘A Much More Active Experience’
Even viewing photo slide shows and listening to music on TV are compelling options for many, Scherf noted.
Internet-connected sets like the Scandinavia, then, will appeal to a wide range of consumers, he asserted.
Whether they will be interested in moving more PC-oriented applications into the living room, however, remains to be seen, Scherf pointed out.
“Email may be about where you’ve reached the consumer limit for moving from a passive to a much more active experience,” he suggested.
‘A Compelling Development Opportunity’
In addition to the new capabilities it will offer consumers, of course, the Android TV is also notable in that it is based on open source technology.
“Android’s reach continues to extend beyond mobile handsets,” Stephen O’Grady, a RedMonk analyst, told LinuxInsider. “This widens the potential market for would-be Android developers, making it a more compelling development opportunity.”
Indeed, “this highlights the continued use of Linux and open source for embedding software in all kinds of devices, from mobile phones — where Android is having traction and impact — to set-top boxes and, as we see here, in TVs and other electronics,” added Jay Lyman, an analyst with the 451 Group.
Open Source Flexibility
There’s the potential for synergy and connectivity among different devices and different types of devices using Android, Lyman told LinuxInsider.
“For example, if you can use your Android-powered handheld to manage your television programming on your Android-powered TV and/or use the handheld as an actual remote control for your Android-powered TV, it can be compelling with the common platform being Android,” Lyman explained.
Of course, “we’re still a long way from that, and there is just as much potential for multiple device and location connectivity with other, competing platforms,” he pointed out.
“Still, being open source affords a degree of flexibility,” concluded Lyman. “It will be interesting to see how far Android backers go toward utilizing that.”