Google has built Android into the dominant platform for smartphones and tablets, but other markets have proven more elusive -- none more so than the living room. Google has made multiple attempts to get on the biggest screen in your house, learning a bit more from each try. The just-announced Android TV platform is the culmination of all that success and failure (mostly failure). If Mountain View did things right, it will avoid the missteps of Google TV and leverage the strengths of Chromecast, but the future is still uncertain, and Google has a lot to prove.
A History of Failure
Google's first real swing at the living room was Google TV, which was announced way back in 2010 as a Honeycomb-based platform for set-top boxes and smart TVs. There were issues right from the start, due largely to the incomplete state of the software. Google chose to launch the first wave of devices (from OEMs like Logitech and Sony) without the Play Store (still Android Market in those days). Instead, Google TV relied on the browser and a few built-in apps like Netflix.
The embedded GTV browser was supposed to simply allow users to stream content from Hulu and other streaming platforms, but it turns out content owners didn't much care for that idea. The Google TV user agent was quickly blacklisted by virtually every streaming provider and network. Google should have seen that coming -- these services wanted to sell people premium services for TV streaming. It took almost a year after launch for the Android Market update to come along, but the software was still based on the archaic Honeycomb release of Android, and performance was severely lacking. A later update to Ice Cream Sandwich did nothing to salvage Google's living room hopes.