Last summer, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) unveiled the Nexus Q at its 2012 I/O developer conference, a spherical device that looked like it was straight out of a futuristic sci-fi movie that could stream content directly from an Android device to a connected TV. Google also touted that it was bucking the prevalent trend among consumer electronics companies to outsource manufacturing, instead opting to have the device assembled stateside.
Sadly, the device was utterly and undeniably doomed, and was subsequently postponed indefinitely before even shipping (those who pre-ordered early got free units). This unavoidable fate was due to the inclusion of niche features like an "audiophile-grade" amp, limited functionality, and untenably high price. Sooner or later, Google must resurrect the Nexus Q.
While Google absolutely missed the mark with execution the first time around, streaming set-top boxes are important and strategically necessary in order for the warring titans to expand their ecosystems into the living room.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the first mover among the big tech giants with the Apple TV that's currently in its third generation. Even Apple missed on its first attempt; the first-generation model from 2007 emphasized local storage and cost $299 (the same price of the Nexus Q). It took Apple three years until the second-generation model in 2010, which properly focused on streaming content and included a range of third-party content services. The company sold a record 2 million units in the fiscal first quarter -- not too shabby for a "hobby" business.
Both Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon.com reportedly have similar devices in the works. The software giant already has a large living room presence with its Xbox, and a $99 Xbox TV set-top box makes a lot of sense. The e-tailer is rumored to have a Kindle TV set-top box slated for launch this fall, which seems inevitable considering the success of the Kindle Fire and Amazon's wide range of video content, including Prime Instant Video.
According to AllThingsD, a revived Nexus Q may come later rather than sooner. Google I/O kicks off tomorrow, but the search giant isn't planning on bringing the device back from the dead quite yet. Assuming that Google intends to participate in the coming battle for the living room, it has no choice but to one day resurrect the Nexus Q. That day may not be soon, but it will come, and perhaps Big G will do it right this time around.
Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.