Back during Google’s annual I/O event, the internet giant unveiled a number of products and platforms destined to land. One of those was Android TV. Google’s second attempt at invading your living room. To help bring the platform to market, Google also unveiled their first Android TV device, the Google Nexus Player. This was a standalone unit which could be hooked up to your existing TV and bring all the goodness of Android TV. Soon afterwards, the Nexus player landed in Canada and the U.S. and went on general sale via the Play Store for the princely sum of $99.99. Fast forward to last Monday and the news broke that the Nexus Player was heading to a retailer near you. As a result, the little unit could be purchased from the likes of Amazon and Best Buy, to name but a few.
That said, the problem with the Nexus Player so far, is that it seems to be taking its time in reaching other markets. There is little doubt, if it was to go on sale tomorrow in Europe, it would sell. There is demand for the unit and as the hardware is alive and kicking stateside, there is no reason as to why it cannot be released elsewhere. And yet, since its release in the latter part of last year, the Nexus Player is yet to become available anywhere outside of North America. Which does seem a little strange. However, what is even stranger is that yesterday Google announced the first international steps of the Nexus Player. And they are not small ones.
Yep, it seems the Nexus Player has finally got its travel documents in order and is heading for Japan. There was no clear indication as to why Japan was the next market. Which, by the way, seems even stranger still, when you factor that Asus (who manufacture the device) is based out of Taiwan. One interesting observation about the Japan news, is the angle Google are taking with the player. While in the U.S., the Nexus Player is being touted as ‘primarily’ a TV/movie player (and secondary as a games unit), in Japan, it seems much more focus is being put on the gaming side of Android TV. In Google’s Asia announcement, there was a heavy focus on this, with Google announcing Japanese Android TV users will be able to play Final Fantasy III and bask in “relieving their console dominated youth“.
This leads me to an interesting assumption and this is only an assumption. Based on what we spoke about last week with the lack of android apps for Android TV. Maybe this is where the problem for other markets is. If developers, in general, are not porting enough Android TV apps then maybe in markets like Europe, Russia, China, Australia, there are even fewer ready-to-go local Android TV apps. For instance, in the Google announcement, as well as Final Fantasy, Google also announced apps and games like Soul Calibur, Video Market, Hot Pepper Beauty, Ryori Sapuri and “Hulu’s offering in Japan” are all ready to go. As these are clearly Japanese Android TV content apps and have been developed and ready, maybe this is why Japan is first outside of North America to get to see Android TV? Maybe the problem for Android TV in your locality is the lack of local Android TV apps. Maybe Google is releasing the device in areas which embrace the platform first. If that is the case, some areas might be waiting quite a while for the player to arrive.
Anyway, in terms of when and for how much, the announcement states the device will go on sale in Japan towards the end of February. The Player will be priced at JPY 12,800, which roughly works out to be just under $110. So generally speaking, the same price as in the US (especially when you add on tax). Were you surprised Japan was the first non-North American market? Let us know your thoughts and why you think Japan was first.