Google Launches New $99 Streaming Box With Android TV; Joins Apple & Amazon With Ecosystem Play

player-overview-1024The $99 streaming device market just got a little more crowded with Google’s announcement of their new streaming box, dubbed Nexus Player. Built in partnership with ASUS, it’s the first device to run Android TV and also allows you to play Android games on your TV, with a separately priced gamepad. Unlike Google’s Chromecast USB stick, the Nexus Player includes an app guide, content recommendations and voice search controls. It’s also Google Cast Ready so you can fling content from Chromebooks and Android/iOS devices to your TV. Inside the device is a 1.8GHz Quad Core, Intel Atom chip, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, HDMI out, with WiFi support for 802.11ac 2×2 (MIMO). The lack of an ethernet port is a big downside as I’ll take the reliability of an ethernet cable over WiFi any day. The box is up for pre-order tomorrow and will be in stores on November 3rd.

The initial content options available at launch are limited on the box with the major ones being Google Play, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Vevo, Pandora, iHeart Radio and support for Plex. Other apps from those like the Food Network and PBS Kids are also available, but content choices are pretty limited right now. Other boxes, including Amazon’s Fire TV were also limited in their content choices at launch, so we can expect to see a lot more content come to Google’s new box fairly quickly. I expect it won’t take more than a year before Google’s $99 Nexus Player will be very similar to Roku, Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, with regards to content choices.

With so many streaming options in the market when it comes to Smart TV’s, game consoles, connected Blu-ray players and $99 streaming boxes, Google is entering a very crowded consumer market. But the advantage Google, Apple and Amazon have over everyone else is that they all operate and control an end-to-end video ecosystem. In the long run, they will all be the winners in the $99 streaming box market, and devices from Netgear, Sony, Western Digital and others stand no chance with their boxes. Just within the last year alone, devices from Vizio (Co-Star), D-Link (MovieNite Plus), Hisense (Pulse), Sony (SMP-N200) and Seagate (GoFlexTV) have all been discontinued in the market.

Long-term winners in the space will be Apple, Amazon, and Google for dedicated streaming boxes/USB sticks, and Microsoft and Sony with their more expensive gaming consoles. Where this leaves Roku in the long-term is unknown, as they still have the best $99 streamer in the market today when it comes to content choices, but that gap between them and others keeps shrinking. Roku doesn’t have the marketing power of Apple, Amazon or Google so it’s going to continue to be a tough fight for them in a very crowded market.