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4/15/2009
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Google's Android Hits Set-Top Box

The set-top box may be just the first nonphone device that uses Google's open source operating system.

In a positive sign for the Google-backed operating system, Android will soon find its way to a set-top box made by Motorola.

The device, which is called "au Box," is being made for the Japanese Internet service provider KDDI, and it will be capable of playing DVDs and CDs, transfer music and video to a mobile device, and rip and store files. The box will likely be able to surf the Web with Android's Chome-like browser. The au Box doesn't have a definite release date, and it's unclear if it will be released in other markets.

The Android-powered box is being pushed along by the Open Embedded Software Foundation, a consortium of Japanese electronics manufacturers that want the Linux-based OS on a variety of devices. At this fall's electronic trade show CEATEC, the group will be showing off multiple Android-powered prototype devices including VoIP phones and TVs.

These moves show that Android appears to be gaining some much-needed momentum, as fans are still waiting for more devices other than the T-Mobile G1. There are multiple Android smartphones expected from Acer, HTC, Samsung, and others later this year, but only the HTC Magic has been announced so far.

When Google first introduced the Linux-based platform in 2007, many industry watchers saw it as another smartphone operating system. But it's become clear that Android will spread to a variety of Internet-connected devices, and computer makers like Hewlett-Packard and Asus are considering using the OS for netbooks.


InformationWeek has published a 360-degree analysis of the first Android-based smartphone. Download the report here (registration required).

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