The Hills Are Greener: Why Google Needs to Find a Standardized Chipset

The Hills Are Greener: Why Google Needs to Find a Standardized Chipset

Jul 16, 2012

The Android world has kept a watchful eye on the Ouya, the Kickstarter project for an Android-powered game console, which got funded in one day. Not just that, but it has over 38,000 backers and has raised over $4.8 million dollars so far. Apparently there was some demand for the prospect of a gaming console that would be low-cost, yet have a fairly capable gaming chip in it in the Tegra 3, and would be based on a foundation of games that would all have some kind of free version available – whether it be a demo, subscription-based, or just free with IAP.

But look for the important feature in that list: Tegra 3. That’s the key.

Look, Apple has found their success thanks in part to the A* line of chips the last few years, starting with the A4 in the iPad 1, iPhone 4, iPod touch 4th generation, and 2nd generation Apple TV (the current model is the 3rd generation). Later devices use similar chip architecture that’s more powerful. These are integrated systems on a chip, and they give Apple the benefit of keeping costs down via manufacturing, not to mention minimizing fragmentation issues.

So, if a chip manufacturer has made a line of chips that can be produced cheaply enough to be in $99 devices, and $199 tablets, then why isn’t Google jumping on this? Why buy Motorola Mobility, when they’re using others’ processors? If Google really wanted to help solve Android’s problems, they’d be promoting an integrated chipset like the Tegra line. Make it a case where manufacturers could go their own way with their own chips, but then they’d be on their own, and making it more difficult for developers and users to get useful apps.

Android needs standardization of some sort. Manufacturers should still be allowed to make the kinds of phones that they want, and Android’s openness ensure that anyone can do what they want with the OS, but to start incentivizing standardization. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and Samsung’s Exynos might be marginalized by this, and Samsung in particular might be against the idea, but a simplified ecosystem may be what’s best for Google and for Android as a whole.

And to think, this was all inspired by a gaming console. Maybe the form factor isn’t dead after all.