Chromecast will disrupt the living room; Apple TV and Airplay don’t stand a chance

by: Derek RossJuly 25, 2013


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.

Sandvine Mobile Access Usage

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.

  • Cheap, simple, and universal. I think someone finally got it right.

    • Victor V.

      to be honest I think the only company that could implement a device like this is Google. How many companies can say that they also currently own the most popular internet browser in the world?This browser also allows you to to transfer/take all of your personal user settings to other devices as long as you have a user account with them. Which coincidentally will also most likely be used by google to sync video content from your desktop to your t.v What other company has a huge app store already tied with their browser ?which other company has the most popular search engine in the world,and stands to gain the most from the increased advertising revenue that will surely follow.”what are cable executives to do? Block the entire Chrome web browser, the most popular web browser in the world?”THis quote stood out to me the most in this article. The chrome browser being so popular is probably the main reason that a small upstart company could not implement a similar device. The only other company that I can think of that could have possibly done this is microsoft explorer.In my opinion it was a confligeration of events,milestones and technologies that have allowed a device like these to well as the specified events and technologies taking place under the guidance,ownership,and stewardship of a single company.It probably could have not being implemented or existed year or more ago.Anyways I hope I don’t come of as completely clueless lol. This is my opinion on this device. Chormcast can definitely be considered a disruptive technology.

      • I think Amazon could make a push in this market as well as Microsoft. Amazon is the leading cloud storage vendor in the world. If they get the right partners, or buy a few small Chinese manufacturers to get the hardware, then they’re in business.

        • CAC1031

          Amazon is a content provider but how on earth can it compete without something like the Chrome browser platform? Microsoft could try to do something similar with IE but its way behind and this will probably adopted as the platform to beat pretty quickly.

          • I think Amazon could come up with something that mainly streams videos through Prime. They already have the web server infrastructure to support something of this scale. But, I agree with you that Microsoft would be the best choice for a competitor. I’m REALLY surprised that they haven’t come up with something like this. Pushing everyone to Xbox services maybe?

  • Darryl B

    Chromecast doesn’t appear to mirror Android games, though, does it?

    • Darryl B

      Miracast devices mirror everything on screen (Android 4.2 and above), will cost $10-20 and also offer DLNA media streaming from any supporting app.

      So in effect, Chromecast does lock you into Google’s ecosystem because you have to use Google Play Music or Movies app to stream your media.

      And you can’t mirror games yet, like Airplay does.

      • John Hamernick-Ramseier

        Game developers can add the api to their games so it can work with Chromecast. It could be like the DS or the phone could be the controller it depends on how the develop incorporates the API.

      • David Mueller

        I would find Miracat better too, because the App mustn’t support it

      • Yet. I’m assuming Chrome games are coming. At least that’s what other APK teardowns point to.

        • David Mueller

  • garciaop

    just the perfect excuse to get a new tv i been holding on to an old tv so now its gonna be great with Chromecast

  • Kenny Woodard

    Does this require wifi? Or does it work through Bluetooth?

    • John Hamernick-Ramseier

      Works over WiFi because it doesn’t stream from your phone.
      Chromecast connects to internet through WiFi then your device sends information to the Chromecast, then Chromecast downloads the information from the web. Your device is just a remote and that’s it. Chromecast downloads information from WiFi not your device.

      • Kenny Woodard

        Well dang. Thanks tho!

      • David Mueller

        If my network is encrypted how can this find it? Is there a way to find the network manualy?

        • John Hamernick-Ramseier

          It runs a light version of chrome OS so if a chrome book can see your network so will chromecast.
          Do you mean your WiFi doesn’t broadcast its name or it has a password (not sure what exactly you mean your WiFi is encrypted)

          • David Mueller

            Both thinks

      • Darryl B

        Miracast is superior in that aspect because it directly mirrors the phone, so it uses phone’s internet connection (or can use wifi connection as well).

        What about sending phone-stored media to Chromecast? That streams over wifi-direct?

        • Darryl B

          The reason using the phone’s connection is important is that as 4G phones (and higher data packages) take over, the home cable/DSL connection will get chopped in many homes.

        • Trent Richards

          I don’t think Chromecast can stream media stored on your mobile device. That is where Miracast is superior and a reason that we as customers should make it known to Google that Miracast should not be abandoned in favor of Chromecast. I will likely get one of these, but I am still looking forward to better Miracast integration in all Android devices.

  • Love it – ordered mine tonight.

  • DrCarpy

    I’m upset that it not available outside the U.S. That to me seems unfair and ridiculous. I live in Canada, to Google, I may as well live on the dark side of the moon! Think about it, still no sound search, Google Voice, Google Music,etc.

    • cristian donose

      I found it on eBay, should be easy for you to buy from there. Here in Romania is not that easy…

      • DrCarpy

        I wish it were easier for all Global users. We should be treated the same as the U.S. end users. We all pay for our devices. Google wants to serve the globe like Apple does, then stop segregation. Enough U.S.vs The rest of us….it’s pretty annoying to me now, I hope others voice their displeasure, so Google starts to repair things.

        • z0phi3l

          Again, not Google’s fault, restrictive laws in most countries prevent Google from letting users use their services.

          • DrCarpy

            So why does Apple (whom I can’t stand) find a way? Stop being a Google can do no wrong fanboy. They are a multi-billion dollar entity.They should figure out agreements that allow for them to be everywhere. Again they’re competing with Apple and Microsoft, both global entities.

      • David Mueller

        Use Tor to buy it

        • cristian donose

          And how can I pay? I dont have a US credit card.

      • Jarl

        cheapest i found is 55$ plus $15 shipping, at that price i’m going to pass (esoecially since i already paid full price for the failure called google tv)

        i’m with DrCarpy, its ridiculous and unfair stuff like this isnt available outside the us

    • David Mueller

      Netflix isn’t available from the EU, so there are only Google services left. If German TV stations uses chrome cast I will use it. Till then buy a new Smart TV or hi-fi equipment – for the best YouTube experience – that uses this beam button already or buy a raspberry pi with xbmc – than you can watch some of the most popular TV episodes – South Park/ Ard and Zdf – German TV and Documentaries.

      • Bjajjull

        Netflix is available in Sweden.

      • le_lutin

        Netflix is available in the UK.
        (which is in the EU)

      • MasterMuffin

        Every European country has Netflix (Germany seems to be an exception)

    • Bjajjull

      It’s not that hard to import one ;) But I know what you mean, and that’s annoying. Even though I managed to get All Access outside US when it was $7.99, I hate that their services isn’t available in more places.

    • z0phi3l

      Not Google’s fault, blame restrictive Canadian laws that make it harder for Google to sell you their services

      • matthewfabb

        There aren’t any restrictive laws in Canada that make it harder to sell services in Canada. It’s just a smaller market and so new hardware tends to be released in the US a much bigger market to see how successful it is before moving to other markets like Canada.

        • Shane232

          They should test it in a smaller market ;)…

          I wouldn’t blame laws — Google Music has never stepped foot on Canadian soil — yet iTunes has been here since the beginning of time. Also, there should be no laws preventing this device from coming to Canada — we’ve had Apple TV for years, and I can’t see why it would be any different.

          To me, it feels like Google doesn’t care about Canada

          • matthewfabb

            Something like Google Music requires not dealing with laws, but deals with all the music labels that own the rights. It’s those deals that keep something like Google Music from expanding into Canada. iTunes didn’t launch the same time in Canada as it did in the US. Meanwhile iTunes Radio still hasn’t made it into Canada. Both iTunes Radio and Google Music took a very long time for both media companies to work out deals to get access to their media libraries.

            Devices don’t have that problem. The only 3rd party that they have to make a deal with is retail companies to decide whether or not to stock their product. I imagine it won’t be long until Chromecast makes it up north with how popular it has become.

    • @DrCarpy:disqus I am sure it would available in Canada in time. The US audience has the distinct advantage of experiencing technology first hand :)

    • Amazon won’t even let you order one and ship to Canada? That’s just not right. I’d love for someone to come up with a hack to get Canadian TV services on one of these.

    • Victor V.

      ‘murica!lol I’m thinking about moving to vancouver pretty soon. As soon as I finish my graduate studies at least. I can just cross the border and purchase stuff at best buy though If I indeed move there.

  • David Mueller

    Is there a Cyanogen Mod custom ROM yet?

  • abazigal

    I first bought an Apple TV not to watch at home, but to plug in to my classroom projector so I could mirror my ipad’s screen to the whiteboard. I recall vividly the first time I walked around the classroom while manipulating the contents on the board wirelessly using my ipad. It was “magical”.

    I also don’t understand what the article means by not being able to use the device while mirrroring. At home, I can mirror a show from my ipad to my apple tv, then let it run in the background while running another app like Safari. I can watch youtube directly on my ApplyTv already.

    I can even do stuff like use air video to stream a show from my imac to my ipad, then mirror that content to my Apple Tv.

    This is one thing which I think few companies understand. They are wholly focused on “beating” Apple by attempting to match individual products spec for spec, seemingly without realising that what Apple sells you is the user experience. All their devices work together quite well, so the end experience is actually greater than the simple sum of all parts.

    You get what you pay for. And it seems to me that while the chromecast dongle is cheap and portable (its image doesn’t actually include the external power cable), that’s pretty much it has going for it. I still see no reason to switch over from my Apple TV, to be honest.

    • le_lutin

      No-one wants to hear your well-reasoned arguments! *covers ears*

      • abazigal

        No, but I will say them anyways.

        I know it’s pretty cool to bash Apple these days (what more a thread in a place like this), but Apple is the success it is today not solely because of marketing or brainwashing but because they do genuinely make great products that look great and work great and which people find an absolute pleasure to use.

        I make no qualms about revealing upfront that I am pretty much an Apple supporter, but I maintain that I am not here to troll, and I honestly think that everyone benefits from being able to make well-balanced and even-sided arguments. That’s really all there is to it.

        • le_lutin

          I hope you know that I was only joking!
          It’s great to hear other perspectives (especially when they seem to contradict what’s in the article).

          • abazigal

            I know, so please don’t feel offended or hurt. :)

          • le_lutin

            Um, ok!

        • AP_Aus

          I think you are so right Abazigal. It looks like people love to hate Apple but they still compare everything with Apple products, which means they do believe that Apple is industry standard!!

    • Trent Richards

      You are absolutely right. Chromecast is a nice service/device but it can’t do everything that Airplay can do. One thing it does beat Airplay on is being cross platform. I definitely wouldn’t expect anyone to replace their Airplay device for Chromecast, especially if they use nothing but Apple products. If however they also use other non-Apple devices, Chromecast is cheap enough to pick up and add to your entertainment center to allow all of your devices the ability to send media to your TV.

      I am not sure why AA always wants to bend over backwards to convince people that some new Google product is going to kill an Apple product. I personally don’t care for Apple products as I don’t find the user experience to be as good as what Android offers and I will always prefer Windows over Mac. I also have some issues with the company itself that started long before Android or iOS were even ideas. Despite that, I find it pretty obnoxious to constantly stretch facts and withhold information to give the impression that a Google product is “better” than the Apple equivalent.

  • Alex L

    does chromecast play your android device’s downloaded/recorded videos and pictures and music on the SD card? like I can do with Samsung link to my Xbox device? formats?

    • Theodore R. Smith

      Yes it does. It can stream movies from any disk (local or network share) accessible via your devices (even your average dumb NAS).

  • STK10

    I May have missed it in the article but the device needs power if your HDMI doesnt output any current. Its supplied with a power cable and usb power cable so you can just plug it into your USB on your tv if you have one. Other wise use the normal cable. Not a big deal just something they dont really tell you about in the ads.

  • Jusephe

    ” 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.”

    WTF ? It is posible ! Pls do some research before posting anything inaccurate. Tested this on sisters iPhone 4S while Air-playing new nexus 7 review on TV . You can call, browse the web even play games like RR3 or IB 2 Air play isn’t aivable only when using SIRI …
    And ahm sorry for admiting that but it looks like true multitasking… On iOS.

    PS: What will happen if you will connect Chromecast to the HDMI port on the Apple TV ? :)

  • This is an awesome new addition by Google. And at $35(I know I am drawing early conclusions) but it really is a steal!

  • I wonder if they’ll abandon Miracast. Either way I want one of these like yesterday.

  • End in sight

    I hope this little thing makes its way into every hotel room and onto every airplane in the world. That would save me from carrying mine with me. Imagine the possibilities…

  • Clarkkent113

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I currently have no way to watch all my Google Play movies/tv shows on a TV easily. Which forced me to make some purchases on Amazon Instant Video instead of on Google Play because I could use the Amazon app on my 360, but Google didn’t have Play app.

    I hate having digital movies under different services, it’s annoying.

    I was considering buying a Google TV eventually, but with Chromecast I don’t even have to do that. As Derek said, this is a gamechanger, especially at only $35.

  • Timmy

    Interesting. I’m not running into any YouTube/Netflix streamed video viewing on TV issues and I can control Netflix and YouTube viewing on my TVs using the iPad or iPhone through my PS3s. They work great with both Windows Media Player network (for streaming music, pictures, and my HD videos from my computer) and wifi control via iPad and iPhone. However, I will admit that web browsing on PS3 is a bit lacking (and expensive), but I use the iPad instead.

    The only thing I am missing is free Hulu on TV. But this can be solved with a computer hooked up to the TV.

  • David Kinder

    Open to developers sounds nice. I do hope though they add in the option to mirrow as well. I like the idea of what they are doing a lot but sometimes i would also just want to see whats on my tablet. Also streaming from data on the tablet or computer would be nice too so I could use this where a fast internet connection is not available but I want to share the content I have on device.

  • Farbod

    actually, you can use airplay and make a phone call and browse the web. heck, i can even sleep my device. dont write stuff you know nothing about!

  • Mastermind

    Oh yeah sure, pick the chinese girl to play the piano of course.


  • Capurnicus,2817,2422300,00.asp
    According to this pcmag article it doesn’t let you play locally stored music and movies. Not sure if i want it anymore :(

    • aholsteinson

      Yeah, I wonder if all it takes is an updated version of the gallery app for it to do this.

  • James

    When are TV shows going to be available at Google Play?