Today Google announced Chromecast, an HDMI streaming media player for your TV. We saw this device pass through the FCC a while back, but had no idea at the time the potential of this 2 inch HDMI dongle. For just $35, you can turn your living room into an Internet media consumption powerhouse. With the click of a button, you can fling (send) Netflix videos, Pandora music, YouTube videos, Google Play Music, Play Movies and TV, pictures and web pages to your big screen TV. And this is just the beginning. Google has provided API access for software developers. The potential is overwhelming from the start.
This isn’t the first time that Google has tried to tackle the lucrative living room. Google TV just isn’t doing it and has been problematic since the start (even though it has a lot of potential). Chromecast differs from Google TV not only in price, but also functionality and simplicity.
You can't use Airplay and make a phone call or browse the web at the same time
Can’t other similar products already do some of this? The fact of the matter is, it’s semi-difficult with current competitor devices to stream content to your TV. Apple TV and Airplay lock you into one ecosystem, theirs. Some households have Android phones and Apple tablets or Apple computers and Android mobile devices. We aren’t a one device or one platform society. The living room shouldn’t be this way either. Chromecast is platform agnostic. Chromecast will work with your Chrome web browser, your iPhone, your Android phone, your iPad, and your Android tablet. Even if you’re entirely on the Apple ecosystem with your devices, you still can’t use the device once you start using Airplay. You’re mirroring content with that device now. You can’t use Airplay and make a phone call or browse the web at the same time. Chromecast allows you to use your device independently after you’ve sent your content over from your phone to your TV. Apple might have sold 12 million Apple TV’s, but Chromecast can do what Apple TV does, do it better and do more. Google has a real shot at winning this race.
It is shocking how much video is consumed on phones, tablets and laptops, but the TV usage just breaks off
Chromecast’s simplicity and ease of use should help Google capture the potential Internet TV audience. Nearly 50 percent of peak downstream Internet traffic in the US comes from Netflix and YouTube. While speaking with AllThingsD, Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Android and Chrome said “it is shocking how much video is consumed on phones, tablets and laptops, but the TV usage just breaks off.” Televisions are the most used devices at home, yet they aren’t being used to consume streaming content in the same way that mobile devices are.
The Internet and mobile devices are now in charge of your content consumption. Who cares about smart TV’s, set top boxes, and cable providers. The consumer is in charge now. Chromecast easily puts you in charge of your content with familiar interfaces. You’re already used to watching TV episodes, movies and listening to music on your phone, tablet, or computer. Chromecast doesn’t make you use the built in cable providers clunky menu system or your smart TV’s awkward user interface. Chromecast doesn’t totally do away with watching content on your favorite mobile device though. TV usage is no longer dependent upon one device. You can watch a TV episode in the living room, fling it to the bedroom, or take it with you on your phone when you leave the house and pick where you originally left off.
Chromecast puts you in charge of your living room and cable companies are going to hear a loud and clear message in the coming weeks. Cordcutting (getting rid of your cable TV provider) just got a whole lot easier. Gone are the existing attempts made with Google TV to integrate and develop new applications. Chromecast uses existing web applications.
Gone are the existing attempts made with Google TV
Let’s take Hulu for example. Hulu restricts the use of the free Hulu service on TV’s. They want you to pay for the $8.00 per month Hulu Plus setup. If you watch free Hulu on the desktop, a smaller screen, that’s okay apparently. HBO with their HBO Go has similar restrictions. But you see, Chromecast is Chrome. What are cable executives going to do? Block the entire Chrome web browser, the most popular web browser in the world? They need to adapt.
Advertisers will have to adjust to new opportunities. Targeted advertising is big business and Google knows exactly what you’re watching. Think of all of the commercials you see on the big screen that don’t cater to you. Think how the entire entertainment advertising industry could change with targeted advertising. The future of the entertainment industry is online, streaming content. Chromecast is going to be extremely disruptive, changing the industry. Google is a juggernaut that cannot be stopped. We’ve seen this with Android and Chrome. It’s time for pay TV to realize this and play ball.