Google has just launched Chromecast, its latest attempt to win a major slice of the connected living-room market. This dongle connects TV sets to the Internet in an instant.
In an April 2012 study on the connected living room, international market research and market data firm Research and Markets estimated that 400 million homes would be equipped “with one form or another of smart television by 2016.” The report also forecast that the number of devices in use connecting the television to the Internet would reach 1.5 billion worldwide by that same year. On 24 July Google took a giant leap forward when it announced the launch of Chromecast, which could well play a big part in achieving those predictions. Chromecast, which is a small electronic stick, plugs in to any television to connect it to the Internet.
Any TV becomes smart
Chromecast is a small HDMI stick and is compatible with all types of televisions, including those which are not usually connected to the Internet. While Apple TV’s customers can use only Apple devices when streaming programs to their TV, Chromecast works in a slightly different way. It tells the user’s smartphone or tablet to send web content directly to the television. The mobile device in use thus basically becomes a remote control enabling the user to command his/her (now smart) television, to which YouTube, Netflix, or Google Play content can be streamed. For the moment Google has signed up only a very small number of partners to its initiative, but says that more content will soon be available, including from music provider Pandora.
An open strategy
Chromecast certainly has a lot of things going for it. First and foremost, it has not been designed just for Android-based devices; it also works with iOS devices. Another plus is that it only costs $35, way below Apple TVs $99 price-tag or the price of most games consoles, which means it is very competitive. In addition, Google is inviting developers to contribute to building the ecosystem, using the Google Cast SDK, which enables them to carry out some adjustments to their own existing mobile apps so as to make them work with Chromecast. Lastly, Google has also indicated that Google Cast technology could soon be integrated directly into the proprietary devices of some of its partners.