How about this for an eyebrow-rasier: Panasonic (s PC) decided against using Android on its connected TV sets because of its costs, according to a Bloomberg report. Now, mind you, Google (s GOOG) is giving its Android OS for mobile devices away for free, and there are no signs that this would change with a TV-optimized version. However, Google has teamed up with Intel (s INTC) to make Android on the TV a reality, and the chips needed to run Android on a Panasonic TV set would have been too pricey for the company. Bloomberg has Panasonic EVP Bob Perry on the record saying that Android would just require too much processing power to make it a viable solution.
That revelation could be a good indicator of how Google is going to approach its rumored Google TV platform, which it reportedly is developing together with Sony (s SNE) and Intel. The New York Times reported two weeks ago that Google TV would come in the form of a set-top box, and VideoNuze shared some further rumors about the box actually working together with, as opposed to replacing, your current cable box. Bloomberg is also reminding us that Samsung rejected the idea of using Android for its devices as well, which makes the set-top box scenario even more believable. You gotta find a way to make your service work somehow if you don’t have any way to get into the devices of two of the biggest TV makers.
Of course, the mere fact that Google was talking to Panasonic and Samsung is also telling. The search giant clearly wants to get into the living room, and it might be considering a multiple platform approach akin to its Android mobile strategy. Its possible that we’ll see a subsidized Google TV set-top box from pay TV providers like Dish, and then a premium-priced TV set sold directly to consumers, possibly manufactured by Sony. Think of it as the Nexus One of connected TVs.
As for Panasonic, the company has so far used its own widget platform — dubbed Viera Cast — to bring YouTube and other online services to connected TVs. Viera Cast is tightly controlled by Panasonic, but Perry has recently been talking about eventually making it more open, even though he stepped short of saying that it will eventually be as unrestricted as a browser environment when I interviewed him at the TV of Tomorrow Show earlier this month. Check out the (previosly published) video interview below.
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