February 26, 2016
According to multiple unnamed sources, Google and TV manufacturer Vizio are partnering on new TV sets with built-in Chromecast-like functionality. The new sets are reported to allow consumers to initiate streaming of online services like Netflix and Hulu from mobile devices. This move is a sharp contrast to Google’s previous model, which drew a line between Chromecast and its Android TV, a smart TV platform launched in 2014 that runs apps on the TV set with navigation via a remote control.
Variety points out that this move towards the cast model coincides with organizational changes at Google, where Mario Queiroz, “who has been in charge of Chromecast since its inception, also took over leadership of Android TV last fall.”
Android TV has had “modest” uptake, with Sony and Sharp among a few manufacturers shipping Android TV-based sets. Since its introduction in 2013, Google’s Chromecast has sold more than 20 million units; a second generation (above) was introduced last September.
The first Chromecast-powered Vizio TVs may appear in the spring, and Vizio “plans to help consumers with the transition to this new interaction model with an Android-based tablet that functions as a dedicated remote control” and include a programming guide. Variety reports that the tablet “may be included free of charge with some TV sets, and Vizio may decide not even to include a traditional TV remote control.”
Google and Vizio have a history of collaboration; in 2012, Vizio built a Roku-like set-top box based on the now-failed Google TV platform. For its TV sets, Vizio relied on Yahoo’s Connected TV app platform, which is scheduled to be shut down, and, more recently, to Opera’s platform. To further its own goals in transitioning to streaming, Vizio also acquired Advanced Media Research Group, known for its BuddyTV entertainment news website and TV guide app, in 2014.
Meanwhile, Google has approached “at least one other TV manufacturer about adding casting without any on-screen apps to its TV sets,” notes Variety.