Why do you exist, Nexus Q?
Google has introduced its own music streamer device, the Nexus Q, a device which frankly shouldn’t exist. Essentially it is a Sonos Media Player-type device that can only play music from Google Play (for the time being anyway) and can only be controlled by Android devices (for the time being anyway). It’s $300 putting it $50 cheaper than its closest Sonos counterpart, the Sonos Connect, though I’m sure Google would want to make the case with it competing against the Connect:Amp wich sells for $499. To be fair the Q does some things that the Sonos does not, it will let you play YouTube video and videos on sale on the Play Store, which has prompted blogs to position this product to be competing against the likes of AppleTV and Roku. Still, I don’t know how many casual consumers would own audio equipment for their home theatre rather than defaulting to tv speakers, or how many audiophiles would find it acceptable to stream content from YouTube over their expensive equipment.
If Google’s Nexus Q fight is with Sonos, then they’re going to learn right away that they need more than their own services in order to compete. At the very least they are going to need subscription streaming services like Spotify, MOG, and Rdio, as well as internet radio providers like TuneIn or iHeartRadio. Still none of this escapes the fact that for most people GoogleTV is good enough for these purposes.
Vizio is going to launch a $100 competitor to devices like AppleTV and Roku running GoogleTV. It is, quite frankly, the superior device on the market. It comes bundled with an OnLive player, essentially making it a gaming console, it allows you to plug in your cablebox via HDMI, meaning that it is always on without needing to switch inputs on your TV. It is, in my opinion, a superior device to the Roku 2, AppleTV, and Boxee Box, and as a longtime frustrated Roku XD owner I’m probably going to switch over to Vizio’s box once it makes its way to market. I’m surprised that Google wouldn’t at least mention it alongside of Sony’s own new GoogleTV device during Google IO, especially since GoogleTV seems to be sort of floundering in the market. Additionally, the GoogleTV boxes will also have access to Google Music, but will also have support for things like TuneIn radio. Likewise all the likes of Spotify and MOG would have to do to support GoogleTV would be to modify their already existing Android apps to support it. It has YouTube, it presumably will have access to Google Play Movies and TV Shows, so it essentially does everything that the Nexus Q is trying to do for a third of the price.
My suspicion with the device is that it exists simply because Google’s engineers thought it was a cool ideal. It doesn’t really push forward any of Google’s main services forward, and is generally a niche product. Still, if it is going to exist, then Google needs to build an ecosystem for this thing fast. This isn’t just adding in Google products, it needs music and audio services from outside of Google to make this a compelling device for actual audiophiles and to be a proper competitor to the Sonos players.