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Chromecast's App Revolution

Mari Silbey
2/18/2014
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Google is rather quietly, but very quickly, building a huge new app ecosystem for the TV. Less than seven months after the launch of the popular Chromecast streaming stick, the Google platform already hosts more than a dozen official apps, supports technology from Brightcove for dynamic ad insertion, and is drawing attention from the biggest content companies on the planet. (See Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run and Google Chromecast Lands HBO.)

Arguably, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) started this app revolution back when it opened the doors on the Google Play Store, but the speed at which it's transitioning that ecosystem to the television through Chromecast is stunning. The streaming stick was the highest-selling product in the "Computers and Accessories" category on Amazon over the holidays. Now that Google has opened up its software development kit (SDK), a flood of new apps is expected to debut in the near future.

Last week Brightcove Inc. also announced some very important news for the Chromecast platform. Through technology it acquired from Unicorn Media Inc. , Brightcove is offering a digital ad insertion solution for app publishers who want to stitch geo-targeted ads into Chromecast video streams. Advertising means more money for app makers, and nothing makes content companies perk up quite like the promise of monetization.

Despite its relative infancy, Chromecast is already in the mix with much longer-lived streaming devices -- such as Roku boxes and the Apple TV -- as content companies consider their options for platform distribution. In an email conversation, ESPN Director of Communications Kevin Ota didn't make any promises about Chromecast support, but he did note that, "We have had great success with Apple TV, Roku and Xbox, and we're certainly impressed by ChromeCast. We are looking at it as a platform."

Google has great international aspirations for Chromecast as well. It says it will take Chromecast global sometime later this year.

In short, the Chromecast TV app revolution is well underway. And for Google, it looks like there's nothing but upside ahead.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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swattz101
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swattz101,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/20/2014 | 12:44:30 PM
Re: chromecast
I enjoy my ChromeCast. Maybe it would be different if I had a Roku or other device / smart TV.

My current options are my PS3, Comcast DVR (non X1) and ChromeCast. My preferences are the DVR, ChromeCast and then PS3. The PS3 streaming apps are ok, but inconvenient unless I have the controller near me. I always have my phone near me, so anything that I can control with the phone is easy. I expect a Roku would be just as easy as ChromeCast. I look forward to more apps. Content is king!
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 10:12:54 PM
Re: Battle On
@Jessie that's what I thought it was. I really like Impressionist paintings. 
Jessie Morrow
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Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
2/18/2014 | 6:18:56 PM
Re: Battle On
Ariella, cropped from my favorite painting despite the weather - Bathers at Asnieres by Georges Seurat.

 


 
mjgraves
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mjgraves,
User Rank: Lightning
2/18/2014 | 6:07:27 PM
Re: chromecast
Actually, I have a Chromecast...and it sits largely unused. If you have almost any other kind of streaming solution then they are likely more functional than Chromecast was at the time of launch. There were simply too few apps for it.

For example, we have had Tivo for a dozen years, recently upgrading to the latest Roamio Pro. The user experience watching Netflix via Tivo is as good or better than using Chromecast. Tivo has the advantage of a physical remote control. Both Tivo and Chromecast allow an Android device to be used as a remote control.

Between DVRs, Smart TVs, Roku and Chromecast there's the potential for a lot of duplication of functionality.
Ariella
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50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 4:56:10 PM
Re: Battle On
@Jessie ha, well I can think of quite a few people who would feel it's worth having just for the YouTube videos. Great choice of picture, especially as it conjures up images of summer while we are still surrounded by snow here. 
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 4:17:30 PM
Re: chromecast
I remember when Google TV first came out. I thought that it would be a really great complement to cable, improving the experience. But I think that everyone, Google included, realized the problems associated with trying to improve the cable watching experience.

Chromecast is a better entry into the market than Google TV ever was - it is more inobtrusive at a time when cable realizes it need to change. 
Jessie Morrow
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50%
Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
2/18/2014 | 1:48:21 PM
Re: Battle On
Greg, I too have both a Roku and a Chromecast, and if it's 6 of one and a half adozen of the other I will always opt for the less surly Roku. We use Chromecast mainly to view YouTube vids. As far as I know something you cannot do on Roku unless you posess an advanced degree.
Greg Scott
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Greg Scott,
User Rank: Lightning
2/18/2014 | 1:36:54 PM
Re: Battle On
Thanks Jessie.

BTW I have both a Roku and the Chromecas. Roku is more family friendly in my opinion. Acts more like a TV app because it uses a remote, and not your smart phone.

 

 

 
Jessie Morrow
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50%
Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
2/18/2014 | 1:25:16 PM
Re: Battle On
Greg, you may have a point there and then maybe not. Yeah sure I would much prefer to update via Chromecast rather than put my Samsung LED 9000 4K Ultra Smart TV ( assuming I own one, which I don't ) to the curb. But now these TVs have some flexibility with Samsung's Smart Evolution. Some people are more than satisfied with just a certain level of "smart" in their TV and often see no reason to go any farther.
Greg Scott
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Greg Scott,
User Rank: Lightning
2/18/2014 | 1:06:44 PM
Re: Battle On
Not likely Jessie. Becuase of consantly shifting "smartness" needs we're better off with an accessory that can be updated cheaply.

 

Building it into the TV might make the TV obsolete, when the "MySpace" feature is no longer desireable....
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