Chromecast: The Rebirth Of Google TV
Google TV is dead (and so is the Q); long live Chromecast.
Google TV was launched a few years ago to much hype and fanfare. But it was a big, expensive hardware proposition for most consumers, and it failed. It turned out consumers didn’t see the need to replace their TVs, and Google didn’t clearly make the case for the product.
Enter Chromecast — a kind of second bite at the TV apple (so to speak) for Google. Launched today at the Google Chrome-Nexus event, it has a much better chance of succeeding than its predecessor.
It’s a tiny WiFi-enabled device that plugs into existing TV HDMI ports. Perhaps most significantly, it’s also $35 for the flash-drive-like dongle. That price undercuts Roku, Apple TV and other set-top box devices that enable online video content to be streamed to TV.
Chromecast permits video from YouTube, Netflix, Google Play and other online video and music apps to stream to TV from any device (PC, tablet, smartphone) via the Chrome browser. That includes iOS and Windows (PCs). Google also contemplates that games and other apps will make their way to the living room via Chromecast.
Accordingly, the company has introduced a developer SDK (Googlecast) that it hopes will enable the product to develop a robust ecosystem around it.
With Chromecast, the laptop or mobile device (smartphone, tablet) becomes the remote. However, all the content is streamed from the cloud so users can do things with their laptops, smartphones or tablets while the video or other content is streaming without interrupting it.
Many existing users of Roku, Apple TV and other online-to-TV set top boxes will not see a need for the product. But there’s a huge market of people who will be tempted by the low price tag.
We’ll have to see how well Google makes its pitch for Chromecast to consumers. But at this price, it won’t have to try as hard.
Postscript: Google has reconfirmed that any video content (e.g., Hulu Plus) on the PC (via the Chrome browser) can be streamed via Chromecast to TV. But on mobile devices, the Chrome browser cannot stream this way.