controller

When Google announced its new Nexus line of products, I was most excited about the Nexus Player. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Google succeeded in creating a breakthrough product. Yet anyway.

Ars Technica has a great review which you can read here. The summary:

Unfortunately for Google’s living room ambitions, the Nexus Player isn’t very good. Despite the company’s experience with Google TV, the Nexus Player and Android TV are first-gen products with lots of first-gen problems. The hardware/software combo flops on many of the basics—such as playing video smoothly—and doesn’t deliver on any of the compelling experiences “Android on your TV” would seem able to provide. Apps and games are presumably supposed to be the big differentiator here from the Chromecast and Apple TV, but the Play Store interface is clunky and, instead of 1.4 million Android apps, you get access to about 70. It’s also pretty buggy.

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Google announced three new devices today: the Nexus 6, the Nexus 9 and Nexus Player. Of the three, I predict the Nexus Player will yield the greatest influence.

The Nexus 6 looks like a good phone but it now has a $650 price, which means it competes with all the other flagship phones. Chinese manufacturers like OnePlus and Xiaomi continue to offer the best performance-to-price ratio on the market.

The Nexus 9 wants to be a productivity device with its detachable keyboard, but its 9-inch display is simply too small for it to be a capable laptop replacement. It might fill a niche, but it won’t be the converged device I’m looking for.

Of the three Nexus devices announced today, the Nexus Player is the most interesting. It will compete with other streaming boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, WD TV, Boxee, et. al., but that’s the boring part. Where the Nexus Player has the potential to disrupt its competitors is in games, which Google is taking seriously enough to launch a dedicated game controller. Android’s already extensive game library will be the Nexus Player’s differentiator. Apple TV, your move.

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So Nvidia announced its Shield Tablet, an 8-inch, 1920×1200 display with two front-facing speakers priced at $300.  But the real cost is $400 as you’ll want to get the $60 controller and $40 kickstand cover; both specifically made for Shield.

What’s special about this tablet is that it has a beastly Tegra K1 processor, which on paper destroys the iPad Air and other Android tablets.  As you might have guessed, this is a tablet made for gaming.

Should you get it?  I guess if you like games and in the market for a small Android tablet…sure?  The price is fair for what it can do.  The endorsement is not ringing however because I’m not sure what problem this solves — most high end tablets today are plenty powerful for games — and because I think the 8-inch screen size is just too small for a gaming tablet.

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Yesterday’s post talked about how Apple should execute a gaming-capable Apple TV.  Today, I’m putting my product manager hat on to sketch out in more detail what the end product can look like.  I don’t do it with a fanboy’s wishlist, but with what is realistic and practical for a good engineering team to achieve.

Be forewarned, this post is going to feel dense and maybe even boring if you’re not into this kind of thing.

On to gaming on Apple TV:

  • What it is exactly — streaming device plus controller
  • How it works — only show compatible content, with an interface similar to the current Apple TV and navigation by either controller or app
  • How much it costs — $45 to make, $60 to sell

If Apple makes the product I am proposing, it could disrupt the entire game console market that Sony and Microsoft are currently racing to win.

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