June 27, 2012, 5:47 PM — Google announced a consumer media-streaming device it calls the Nexus Q at its I/O conference, taking the fight to Apple, which has largely dominated the landscape of music- and video-friendly consumer devices with items including the iPad and Apple TV.
Q is a sleek, titanium-hued ball that interacts via Android Beam with mobile devices to stream music or video from the cloud to high-quality speakers or TV screens. It will sell for US$299.
Engineering director Joe Britt said the Q is "the first consumer electronics device Google has designed from the ground up."
In the crowded lobby after the opening keynote at I/O, some developers found the device to be at least as exciting as the Nexus 7 tablet Google announced -- if not quite as exciting as the computerized glasses that co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrated by talking a team of skydivers through their dive and into the conference room.
Jay Lee with Dito, a Google Apps reseller, found the Q to be the most exciting announcement in a keynote that also presented the Jelly Bean update to Android.
Combined with the Nexus tablet, the Q will integrate Google products more deeply into consumers' lives.
"As you reach into every aspect of somebody's life, there's going to be more opportunities for integration and personalization," he said. He thought that would drive innovation and bring new opportunities for app monetization.
Q will mean a richer exchange of content between consumers and the cloud, said Thiago Catoto, who works for the Brazilian e-commerce company Magazine Luiza.
"I work pretty much with the cloud, so the integration with the market seems to be a big change. It will be more and more content flowing," he said.
The developers noted that Google needed a competitor to Apple TV, which allows users to select the device on which to display multimedia content. The emphasis on media content, including video content partnerships with Disney, ABC, NBC and Sony, on the Nexus 7 suggested that Google sees Apple's dominance in the consumer music and video arena as an opportunity.
Ahmed Abdallah, with Qello, a live-music app, said Google TV wasn't enough and Q was a "step in a better direction."
"If they incorporate Google TV into the Q I think that's a home run. With the Q on its own, they [would] finally have a competitor to the Apple TV," he said.
He envisioned the next step for the Q: sending video from a phone or a tablet to play on a TV screen.