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Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run

Mari Silbey
7/25/2013
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Google may have just won the battle for the living room.

With the launch of a small streaming stick called Chromecast, Google is ready to turn any HD television set into a smart TV. The device, which plugs into a TV's HDMI port, retails for US$35 and will sync nearly any content from a Chrome browser on a PC or mobile device (Android or iOS) to the HD screen.

Chromecast also works with mobile apps that take advantage of the Google Cast software developer kit (SDK). Apps supported at launch include ones from Netflix Inc. and YouTube Inc., as well as Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music.

In one swift move, Google has (metaphorically) rewired the living room. Suddenly, almost anything consumers want to watch on the web is available on the TV. There's no walled garden, and Chromecast isn't limited to a handful of connected devices, or even to a single desktop or mobile operating system. With a single $35 purchase, consumers have virtually the entire Web available on a television set.

Google's push with Chromecast is analogous in some ways to Comcast Corp.'s release of the reference design kit (RDK). (See Hillcrest Snags Comcast RDK License.)

Google's strategy is to get its platform embedded in the TV ecosystem. And while it's strictly designed for online content (unlike the RDK software bundle), it's also dirt cheap and instantly available to almost anyone.

Chromecast also turns a PC or mobile device into a remote control and even lets users continue multitasking with other apps while streaming media wirelessly to the TV. The Chromecast technology only comes in the form of an HDMI stick today, but Google says it will be embedded in new hardware (presumably TVs and set-tops) in the future.

Google still has to prove that Chromecast works as advertised. But if it does, then the game has changed.

Ironically, the cable industry was petrified when Google briefly controlled Motorola's set-top business. But if Chromecast takes off the way it should, cable companies could still be faced with having to put their content on Google devices ... in addition to boxes from Roku Inc., the Xbox from Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc.'s Apple TV. (See Is Apple TV the New Cable Channel.)

Cable apps for Chromecast, anyone?

— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

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gconnery
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gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/29/2013 | 7:03:52 PM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
Yeah, that could be a problem. I may have to set up my laptop as a Wi-Fi access point, which already puts it past most people I guess...
gconnery
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gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/29/2013 | 7:02:16 PM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
Sure. It all sounds good. All sounds like it should happen. But hey, remember Miracast? Remember when Google announced they were building support for it into Android 4.2 Jelly Bean? Remember that back in November last year Miracast was going to be their Air Play competitor? Remember that?

Does anybody talk about Miracast anymore?

Have you seen a lot of TVs come out with Miracast built in? Can you name a streaming box that supports it?

Seen an article that mentioned it?

If Google works on this and app developers support it, this has a shot. If they don't, and they forget about it like they did Miracast, then it won't.

It isn't a given yet. The price point SHOULD create a huge market opportunity that forces developers to support it. Maybe.

Roku says nobody who isn't a tech head is going to want this. Normal people want a remote control. Etc. He's probably just hoping that's true. But it might be.

Let's wait and see.
msilbey
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msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
7/29/2013 | 11:49:16 AM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
Not blind faith, Fanfoot, but huge potential here. The app ecosystem exists, and it's cheap enough to be a stocking stuff.
swattz101
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swattz101,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/27/2013 | 3:56:36 AM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
The current available apps are set up to let you use your mobile device or chrome browser act as a remote for the ChromeCast, but the ChromeCast ultimately pulls the stream directly. This is for Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies, and a few others in the works, such as Pandora.

When it comes to casting tabs from Chrome, it works a little different. While you can cast just about, some are optimized for ChromeCast. (Netflix & YouTube initially.) These pages will "cast" just like the apps and stream directly from ChromeCast. Non-optimized pages are more like a mirror and will not work us well. As far as I know, pages that require plugins will not work either.

As for using ChromeCast in a hotel room, there may be issues depending on how the wifi is set up. If the access point has any kind of security to prevent you from seeing devices from other guest rooms, your devices may not be able to see each other either.

This is my understanding from what I have read about ChromeCast so far. I'm still trying to decide if I want to buy one or wait for the rumored new GoogleTV with ChromeCast and the built in camera.
DanJonesLRMobile
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DanJonesLRMobile,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/26/2013 | 9:42:13 PM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
I don't actually know what the ad situation with Chromecast is though, not really my area, I'm the mobile guy. But yeah, maybe its their way to serve ads without cable control.
redface
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redface,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/26/2013 | 9:38:10 PM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
I think Google could have given the ChromeCast away for free instead of charging $35 for it. Maybe they want to stress the impression that this stick is dirt cheap. If they can sell ads on ChromeCast, it pays for itself in no time.

I wonder how it works with stereo receivers. A lot of home theaters have stereo receivers so that the sound effect is not limited by the puny speakers that the TVs come with. I bet when the ChromeCast is hooked up to the stereo receivers, one loses the ability to turn on the TV from the smartphone. But it would be OK if it does.
gconnery
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gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/26/2013 | 5:58:31 PM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
The innovation here is that its from Google and it costs $35! Let's not underplay this either. This is VERY important. It could still be just another competitor in the TV space, selling a few million units--which means it doesn't change ANYTHING. At its current sell rate the Apple TV or the Roku box aren't threats to Cable. This MIGHT sell in the kind of numbers that could start to change that but we'll see.

If it let you watch free Hulu on your TV without issue (I say it won't), it would be a bigger deal. If the tab projection didn't have audio sync and lag issues (maybe they'll fix that) it would be a bigger deal. When it has more app support, it'll be a bigger deal--its not like that Plair device is going to get a lot of app support...

Personally I'm going to try it out in Hotel Rooms. Small enough to take with you. Plays Netflix. I'll try watching Orange is the new Black that way and see how it goes. But these are cheap enough I may pick one up for each TV in my house.
fivebuckchuck
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fivebuckchuck,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/26/2013 | 2:02:39 PM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
what's the innovation here ? replacing a HDMI cable with Wi-Fi ? really ?

Not to mention, http://home.plair.com/ has already been doing this for an year .. AND more ..as plair re-routes powerpoint presentations as well .. so .. it is good for offices too !
gconnery
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gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/26/2013 | 6:01:55 AM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
Mari, you're better than this. Such blind faith. Really?

Look, I've already ordered one. But I'm as certain as you that this will all work out perfectly.

The Apps are very limited right now. Will companies support it? $35 should mean a nice installed base in short order I would think. But let's see. Even with that there could be reasons companies won't support it. Remember how all the media companies blocked the Google TV?

The browser is an embedded version. Yes with flash. Yes with some DRM support as req'd by Netflix. But it won't let Showtime Anywhere work for example. It requires you to install a plugin. You can't add new codecs to ChromeCast.

Google has been clear that they won't lie with the user agent. If a company wants to block their content from playing, Google wont stop them.

The Chrome tab play thing? Early reviews sound not so great, but hey, it's Beta. Lets give it time.

Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
7/25/2013 | 6:20:39 PM
re: Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run
I was contemplating a Netflix subscription already. Seeing as this comes with 3 free months, it's even more of a no brainer. Ordering it now!
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