By DuBose Cole, Mindshare
The launch of Google’s Chromecast, a $35 dongle that allows users to stream content from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, the Chrome browser and photos albums to their TVs, opens a new avenue for the brand into the consumer’s living room. Unlike SMART TV interfaces or connected devices, which feature remote controls and onscreen menus, Chromecast uses a consumer’s existing devices as a controller, meaning content can be streamed and controlled from Android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads and Chrome for Mac and Windows. Google has positioned Chromecast as a light weight, straightforward and affordable solution to making any TV ‘smart’.
Google’s latest foray takes it into competition with a number of SMART TV, gaming and streaming providers including Roku and Apple TV. The device’s low price point helps it to compete against SMART TVs and other entertainment devices, whilst the wide compatibility across mobiles, tablets and computers ensures it compares favourably against a more controlled Apple TV and Airplay streaming system – which can only use Apple devices.
The low cost of a Chromecast dongle may also have an impact on the more expensive connected video game console market that in recent years has made the leap from gaming devices to full entertainment platforms – and which has likely undermined the sales of SMART TVs as a result. In order to compete with games consoles and SMART TVs, Chromecast must deliver unique content and services and this may be helped by Google’s model of reaching out to the developer community to get them to create second screen applications and to embed Chromecast into existing apps. This model could easily outpace the more controlled and less open-source model of partnering for content available on SMART TVs and gaming platforms – especially as the dongle allows you to stream content direct from the Chrome browser - although it does not guarantee the premium content which is craved by consumers.
Chromecast is the latest service to realize that you don’t have to build big hardware to capture a market. Facebook has managed to get its social network onto more than 100 million phones through its Facebook for Every Phone app, when many believed that a Facebook phone was in development.
Chromecast’s focus devices already utilized for ‘second screening’ highlights how manufacturers can tap into existing platforms to make a smarter, cleaner interface that makes the primary screen just about viewing.
The service’s content development model, allowing apps to stream via Chromecast, is clever and give’s app developers an incentive to build for the device. As always with Google, the price point is significantly below its major rivals, in this case Apple’s already reasonably priced Apple TV at $99.
Chromecast has the potential to be very big and will open up the ‘SMART TV’ market to a whole new audience.