Google (GOOG) Introduces a Game Console and a Smart Watch
Google (GOOG) is all over the map these days. The company is starring in its own movie (The Internship), irking privacy advocates with its role in PRISM, attracting antitrust regulators with its purchase of Waze, and raising polarizing debates regarding the future of augmented reality tech, all at the same time. Google often tops technology headlines across the globe, as its rival Apple (AAPL) is continually dragged down by tax issues, recalls and costly, endless litigation against Samsung.
The report from the Wall Street Journal, which cites anonymous sources, claims that Google is building a game and media consumption device to rival Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox One and Sony's SNE Playstation 4. The product is likely to be much cheaper than either eighth-generation console, and have more in common with the Ouya instead. The Ouya is a $99 Android-powered console that was released last week after starting out as a Kickstarter project. Despite mixed reviews, the Ouya sold out in the first week at all major retailers, indicating a high demand for casual gaming products. Although the majority of Android games rely on touch screens and tilt controls, the Ouya, Nvidia's (NVDA) Shield (which is like a handheld version of the Ouya), and Google's upcoming console could bring traditional controller-based games to Android as well.
Although Google is unlikely to steal too much market share away from the hardcore crowd which favors high-end processors and triple A games, it could tap into the same market of casual gamers that support Nintendo's consoles and the Ouya.
An upcoming smart watch from Google could also upset its balance with Apple, which has sat back and considered making one of its own, even after smaller rivals such as Pebble and larger ones like Sony beat it to the punch repeatedly. Sony recently unveiled the second generation of its smart watch, the SmartWatch 2, a water-resistant Android-powered device that can receive messages, display status updates, track a map location and be used to remotely control the phone's camera. A dedicated smart watch from Google could include all those features and more.
Some analysts have also speculated that Google's smart watch will be used in conjunction with Google Glass, providing users with a full wearable computer with wrist controls and a heads-up display. Apple, on the other hand, is still relying on its current product cycle of iPads and iPhones, which comprise roughly three-fourths of the company's top line, to continue generating revenue. However, the legacy of Steve Jobs won't prop up Apple forever, and it may soon be forced to act against Google's new plans for gaming consoles and watches, which would spread the dominance of its ecosystem even further.
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