Android TV: Should We Now Be Expecting A 'Pixel Player'?

It has been a busy 24 hours in the Android world and it is now understood that this year’s Nexus smartphones will not be Nexus smartphones at all. Instead they will be 'Pixel' smartphones. While this still remains unconfirmed by the powers-that-be, it does seem to fit in with the increasing number of Google-related products that also adopt a Pixel moniker. So although not confirmed, it does seem likely that the next Nexus smartphones will indeed be Pixel smartphones, the Pixel and the Pixel XL.

But where does that leave the Nexus Player? If the information is correct, surely it seems to make sense that we should be now expecting a 'Pixel Player' to be the next Android TV reference device from Google? Well, before answering this, we first need to understand if there is actually another reference device coming from Google. At the moment, most indications, or more accurately, the lack of indications, seem to suggest that there is no follow up device to the Nexus Player coming. As there has been next to no rumors about one and all the current Google talk seems to be largely avoiding the question.

In fact, shortly after the Pixel news arrived, a second report also came through looking to confirm that the Pixel phones will be formally announced and introduced on October 4. What was most revealing about the report though, is the presumed confirmation that along with the Pixel phones, Google will also be introducing the company’s first Daydream VR headset (rumored to be the 'Daydream View'), in addition to the the first Google Home product and also, a new Chromecast - one which is said to be able to support 4K. So basically, the report details that Google is literally dropping all their new products at this October 4 event. That is, all their products except a new Nexus Player.

So whether we should expect a new Google proof-of-concept Android TV device to be marketed as the ‘Pixel Player’ seems to be a largely redundant question at the moment. As all the indications seem to point to a lack of any sort of Nexus follow up device at all. This point seems to be further compounded by the expected arrival of the Xiaomi Mi Box. Although this has not been outed as a follow up to the Nexus Player or even a Google-related product (beyond the relation it shares with the other OEM Android TV boxes), it does seem as though it is adopting the honorary position of the Nexus Player. This is a unit which is expected to be launched in the next month or two (round about when the rest of the new Google products launch) and one which many expect to come to market priced at the price level that the Nexus Player adopts. Which in itself is quite telling - if Google did release a new Nexus/Pixel Player it would inevitably compete directly with the Mi Box in terms of both the launch period and price. Not really an ideal solution for either company.

So overall, it does seem as though we probably should not be expecting a Pixel Player anytime soon and this is largely because we should not really be even expecting a Nexus Player anytime soon. It does seem to be the case that Google is forgoing an Android TV reference product completely this year and quite possibly due to some arrangement with Xiaomi over the Mi Box. This was a product which was first unveiled at Google's I/O event this year and there is every reason to assume that the Mi Box launch will coincide with the October 4 Pixel event. Moving forward, whether we should expect a Pixel Player next year is another question entirely and one which is probably largely dependent on whether next year’s Nexus range does end up continuing this year's Pixel branding. Which is a question for another day.

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