Archos is coming up with a new product called Archos TV Connect, and the company said that it will turn any HDTV into an Android Smart TV that can use the “full Android eco-system”. The interaction will happen thanks to a special QWERTY remote, which also acts as a game controller. Maybe you won’t have to wait for OUYA after all.
The remote control understands gestures, so swiping work just like it would on a tablet or a smartphone. The Android OS is Android 4.1 (aka Jelly Bean), which is one of the most recent version that you can find in devices like the Galaxy Note 2 for example.
This is a particularly innovative move from Archos and it goes against the grain as most TV makers invest enormous amounts of money in proprietary software to power their Smart TVs. In the end, I think that while Android is an expensive proposition for a low-margin business like TVs (because the required hardware is relatively expensive), it is clear that going forward, it would be a much better solution than proprietary operating systems with little apps, let alone good apps.
The main issue is that TV Makers still believe that they can control, and profit from their own little app eco-system, but in reality, they are most likely delaying their own success and opening the door to an Apple TV alternative that will provide ample apps and a much more robust eco-system.
In the meantime, products like the Archos TV Connect will close the gap, but it too will be challenged by the fact that apps are not built with “TV”s in mind. The user interface should be radically different for most apps, although games are the category that should do well from day one, assuming that the controller can effectively replace the trackpad. In the future, motion-sensing like Kinect could be a better solution. What do you think?