Video cameras were not allowed during Eric Schmidt’s keynote at IFA, so I didn’t try to film it, you can stream the full keynote video now on http://ifa-tv.de and probably that Google will post it later too on http://youtube.com/google. I didn’t get ask my major Google questions during the Q&A, but you can find my question and guessing to their reasoning below. Here are my major impressions:
1. Speech to Speech translation in Android is awesome. They did an on stage demo with an english speaking Google engineer (Hugo Barra, Product manager of Android) and a German speaking Google engineer. They had a fast conversation from one to the other, where the Android system would translate speech from one language to the other. Simply fantastic and awesome! Soon enough, one will be able to approach another user who speaks another language with an Android phone, preferably wear a headset, and simply start talking to each other with a second delay until speech is translated and synthesised in own language.
2. The new version of Street View for the new version of Google Maps on Android is also awesome. The little Street View man can be dragged around on the screen, Google knowing all 3D aspects of all buildings and streets, then it provides a video game like effect zooming in on further down on the street thus potentially navigating around Street View much faster and in a cooler way. It will be fun also once Google starts adding into Street View all the publicly published pictures and videos that any Android user could make, thus improving Street View to include user-submitted more up-to-date imagery from the whole world. Would allow even for entering buildings (with proper rights I imagine opt-in included). Augmented Reality is cool and I think Street View will merge with it.
3. Google TV will revolutionize TV. I spoke with Logitech and Sony representatives here at IFA. My impression is that it will hi-jack TV networks and eventually replace the need for TV channels with a choice for viewers to get access to any video content from anywhere. I also think BitTorrent and live p2p streaming support on Google TV cannot be blocked, so that too will be awesome. HD Video Conferencing should also be included with the box, I expect Logitech will include that as an option but they would not confirm the specifics of it (how their HD webcam would work on the only Intel Atom processor of Google TV, perhaps dual-core Intel Atom I am guessing, but still far lower system configuration than currently required for Logitech HD webcams to use for HD video conferencing.
Here is the question I would have asked Eric Schmidt during the Q&A:
1. I have filmed 100s of Chinese/Taiwanese/korean/french manufacturers showing cheap Android tablets, laptops and set-top-boxes at IFA and at all the other consumer electronics trade shows the past year and a half. None of these devices are allowed by Google to ship with the Google Marketplace. Why isn’t there a special version of Google Marketplace for all these devices? Why doesn’t Google offer an .apk download of Google Marketplace for anyone to download on any Android device for free on Google’s website? The cheapest Chinese Android tablets/laptops are $100, while the Samsung tablet is 799€, Dell tablet is 599€ (both unlocked), the Toshiba laptop is 299€ (no Google Marketplace either). Can’t Google monetize products without GPS/3G/compass just as well? Why require such expensive hardware components if Google’s declared goal (during the keynote) is to reach 3-4 billion people with Android in the next 5 years? Is Google also planning to do just as much evil requiring expensive hardware for access to the application stores on Chrome OS and Google TV?
My guess the answer to this which they wouldn’t have provided would be something like following:
– Google has partnered with major hardware manufacturers for Android, and as an exchange for such huge support for the Android platform, Google promises not to allow for faster disruption in the market to not leave these major manufacturers enough time to make as much profit margins as they can. Basically Android is not much cheaper for the end consumers than Apple iPhone is. While Carriers are making more money with Android than with iPhone (because of lower cost of purchasing the device with more competition in the Android market), the major OEM manufacturers are helped by Google to keep as high profit margins on these Android products as possible. All these companies are jealous of Apple and want to have as much money as possible selling these products.
Maybe the rest of the non-invited lower cost Android industry should partner up around alternatives to the Google Marketplace, such as the Archos http://appslib.com marketplace. App developers should be convinced to submit their app on at least one such alternative marketplaces.
Maybe the media needs to be more involved in critisizing this lack of openness in the way the “with Google” branding happens in the Android ecosystem. Maybe major media should demand an answer from Google and this may speed up the rate of Google responding by simply opening up access to the Apps on Marketplace to all devices for free without unfair hardware requirements.
The other question I would have liked to ask:
2. Is Google TV going to work on ARM Powered devices too? Is Google waiting for ARM Cortex A9 for that announcement to happen?
– I know Google TV will work on ARM Processors too, I see no reason that it would not be supported. As Chrome OS is developed for ARM, as Android runs on ARM and as Google TV is a mix of Android and Chrome technologies. HDMI input and output and the IR blaster can be added to likely any ARM set-top-box device with also preferably powerful web browsing processing support. The overlay features on HDMI throughput might require pretty advanced GPU acceleration.
– I believe ARM Powered Google TV can be made for much cheaper than Intel Powered Google TV. $99 for ARM vs $299 for Intel.
Look at this leaked picture and video of the Logitech Revue Google TV set-top-box, rumored for $300 in the USA (maybe with required cable/satellite package subscription plans) when Google TV launches during the next couple of months in the USA:
Source for these Logitech Revue Google TV images: http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/logitech-revue-google-tv-hands-on-impressions/