We’ve already heard rumblings of the long-speculated Google cloud storage system coming to fruiting soon under the label “Google Drive“. Now the rumor mill at WSJ is churning with news of a home entertainment service from the ubiquitous search engine provider, which may or may not be linked with the Android@Home project. It is coincidence that both of these stories have been leaked within hours of each other? Officially, yes; that’s kind of the nature of a leak. But unofficially it all points to a centralized, Google-hosted media hub that’s accessible from any Android device, PC, or connected television.
And why not? Google’s already got all the parts: a music service to which you can upload your own songs or buy directly from Google, a rental/purchase system for movies, and a vibrant platform and web presence with which to deliver it. All they need is an iCloud-style service for general files so you don’t have to rely on the likes of DropBox, and they’re golden. It’s not like Google can’t provide massive storage and bandwidth at a whim, and if Google Music is any indication, they can do it for free. Connect all your home devices to the service, and you’ve got remote entertainment and file access anywhere – who needs a hard drive?
There’s just one little fly in the ointment: Google TV. Android and the desktop Chrome browser are both big enough players in their respective markets to drive an entertainment service, but hooking this into the living room entertainment center would necessitate Google TV, which has been all but forgotten by Google’s hardware manufacturers. Even the new partners announced before CES, Samsung and LG, seemed more interested in pushing their own proprietary connected TVs – and why not, since neither Google nor Apple have been able to dominate against other stand-alone services like Roku.
Assuming that all these leaks do indeed point towards a connected entertainment service (and with the acknowledgement that that’s a rather big assumption) Google could play it one of two ways. They could hope that the Android and Chrome components of the system drive a more mainstream adoption of Google TV, not to mention more support from hardware manufacturers. Or they could simply go for the cash and start working with other platforms: various connected televisions, Roku and yes, maybe even Apple TV. Sure, they wouldn’t control the environment, but they’d sell the content. And at 30% a pop, that’s nothing to turn your nose up at.