Google is scaring TiVo away from Android TV
TiVo started as a DVR box for over-the-air television, but the brand is now used for various TV products under its current owner, Xperi. The TiVo Stream 4K was released last year as a $50 Android TV player, though most excitement around the product faded once the Chromecast with Google TV arrived later that year. Now it appears that TiVo is already looking to ditch the platform, according to a recent Xperi investors meeting.
The TiVo Stream 4K is more or less your standard streaming stick — you plug it into your TV and use the included remote to play content from various streaming services. The player is built on top of Android TV, so it can install TV apps from the Google Play Store, but the stick also has a ‘TiVo Stream’ app intended to be the primary destination for live TV (through Sling TV) and some on-demand content.
However, it seems like Xperi’s interest in Android TV might already be over. The company held an earnings call with investors on May 6th, where Xperi mentioned plans to turn the TiVo Stream interface into “a smart TV OS platform” (via ZatzNotFunny).
Xperi originally planned for the TiVo Stream experience to use Android TV as the core OS, similar to the Stream 4K Stick’s software, but now the company is looking to move away from Google’s platform. Xperi’s CEO Jon Kirchner said this when asked about the roadmap for streaming:
We have done a lot of planning around kind of a three phase approach, starting with the Stream 4K product, which is a dongle that attaches to TVs, moving into an embedded application, where we’ll be let’s say the preferred user interface choice on a broader platform but originally around the notion that it would live on top of Android TV.
And then thirdly, going all the way into a much deeper embedded solution, embedded OS where we’re a bigger provider, where we’re really the sole primary interface for the broader content search and discovery and engagement. What has changed is last fall, Google came out and said that they intend to go beyond their core OS level offering and really get into the UX business, and in so doing it eclipses one’s ability to I think reasonably be an alternative that might otherwise live on their lower level platform.
And so we’ve really jumped to from Phase 1 which is Stream 4K directly into working aggressively on getting our solutions embedded in TVs in a deeper level.
Shortly after the Chromecast with Google TV was released last year, Google revealed that its custom interface would eventually be available to other manufacturers. More importantly, Google said that all Android TV devices will be required to use the Google TV UI sometime around 2023. Since the TiVo Stream app is essentially competing with the Google TV interface (and Fire TV OS, and Roku OS, and so on), it makes sense that Xperi is now looking to jump ship.
Google likely won’t feel much of an impact from only Xperi leaving Android TV behind, but Xperi could end up being one of many companies building their own smart TV platforms in the wake of Google’s future requirements. OnePlus is also selling Android TV-based products with custom software on top, though OnePlus hasn’t revealed its long-term TV plans.