What can an IPTV set-top box do that Android TV can’t?
Firstly, of course, there is very little that Android can’t do but I will explain both why operators don’t use Android apps and why they sometimes can’t use apps.
Why don’t they use android apps on TV?
- A set-top box is your mechanism for interacting with the content, the operator can design the whole look and feel. They can manage your experience and keep you watching longer.
- Being an app on a TV makes you one of dozens or hundreds of other apps on that TV. How do you stand out, how do you ensure the consumer doesn’t press “Exit” and leave your experience?
- No single Android device behaves exactly like another so you’ve got to check each device you would like to focus on. It is easier to possess your own device and just develop once for that device.
- Not everyone has an Android TV, so you still need a set-top box. In my experience, if a customer has got to be asked “what model of TV does one have?” Their answer will often be “It’s a silver Sony one” or “It’s a black LG one”, then asking them to inform you its capabilities is doomed to failure. You might have an android app available within the market place but that has other issues highlighted within the next section.
Why can’t they be embedded in Android TVs?
- Android isn’t secure enough for a few pay-TV contents, most content is ok, except for some premium sports and first-run movies Android devices won’t be considered secure enough. If someone thinks Android is secure and that I am being ridiculous, then I am afraid you don’t have enough experience of set-top box content security requirements from rights holders. I’m not saying they’re right to possess such strict requirements but they are doing exist.
- To overcome the problem of not being the most prominent app on the TV the operator could make an arrangement with the TV manufacturer to take over the main user experience of the product. The IPTV operator’s services would then have the prominence they need. However! Consumer-facing TV brands like Samsung don’t like to give up the ownership of the consumer in this way and so making such a deal isn’t easy. I have seen it done when the content offering is good enough but I have also seen it go wrong.
Why don’t more IPTV operators use Android?
- Android requires: More RAM, more CPU, more Flash
- Android has uncertain legal/patent issues which could result in substantial extra costs even after you have made the product. Companies like HTC already have settled legal cases with Microsoft over Android phones similar patent questions remain around set-top boxes.