Google has certainly come a long way since its days as a mere search engine. As Google's popularity grew, so did the way they work. Google went from being just a top search engine to owning one of the most dominant mobile operating systems in the world, the top video sharing website in the world, and as of 2013 also owns the most widely used web browser in the world, Google Chrome. Google seems to be hitting every area of our social lives, and with today's announcement of Chromecast, streaming content on our televisions can be added to their growing list of household gadgets.
Chromecast isn't Google's first attempt at entering the competitive market for a dedicated streaming media device. As many of you can recall, it was just last year that we heard about the spherical Nexus Q device, which does almost the exact same thing as the Chromecast does, except for it cost $264 more and offered less. The Nexus Q was a device that could be connected to an HDTV to stream content from Google Play and YouTube. That's it. Although the Nexus Q did have a considerably large amount of additional features like using several different wireless technologies for connectivity like WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC, there wasn't much to use it for other than Google Play, YouTube, and audio. That's not a lot of features for a $299 fee. The Nexus Q looked futuristic and cool and all, but like many others, I have to agree that the price was just too steep for a product that did less than comparable, cheaper products could do at the time.
In response to the negative feedback in regards to the price of the device in correlation the features, Google sent out letters last year to those who pre-ordered the device to say they were listening to users' feedback, and they would work on the product to make it better. The Nexus Q was never really talked about again as it was never released to the public, only to developers. The Nexus Q was one of the Top 10 "fails" of 2012, according to CNN.
But 2013 is a new year, and Google has kept its promise and indeed released what some might call a "refreshed" version of the Nexus Q under a new name: Chromecast. A considerably smaller device that greatly differs in design from the bowling ball-centric Nexus Q, Chromecast comes in the form of a dongle that allows you to stream video from the Internet to your TV by using your phone, tablet or computer for just $35. $35! Not only is it a fraction of the price that we heard the Nexus Q would be sold for, but it's also a fraction of the price of two of its main competitors, the Apple TV ($99) and Roku ($88). Of course, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention that both of those higher priced competitors are also priced higher because they can do more stuff. But do people always need more stuff? Not necessarily.
The prime function of Chromecast is to allow devices that stream media like tablets, phones and computers to stream the media over a larger screen. To be honest, Chromecast doesn't really do much at all. For now, it only features Netflix, YouTube and Pandora. Netflix especially can bring a lot to the table with Chromecast, especially if it's a big part in your life already - the $35 Chromecast includes a 3-month subscription to Netflix for both new and existing members, so really you would only be paying about $11 for this tiny media streaming device. C-c-c-combo breaker!
Although it doesn't have much to offer now, the device does have updateable software so prospectively, in the future, we could see other streaming apps like Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, etc. appear on the supported list for Chromecast. However, many people are willing to overlook such limited features in favor of its price, convenience and portability. All you need is a smartphone/tablet/computer, WiFi, the dongle and a TV with an HDMI port (which most TVs made within the last few years have included with them). Seems simple enough, and even if it's not, who cares? It's $35!
So in the end, we have the pros of the device: cheaper than a movie date, portable, and affordable. Then you have the cons: doesn't offer as much as competitors in its current state, could be seen as difficult to set up. If a list has more pros than cons, and affordable is in the pro list, you can sign me up right away.
Do I think that the Chromecast will flop? Unless they stop the support at Netflix (which seems to be dropping a lot of well-known titles but adding its own original program lineup), YouTube, and Google Play, I could see this device really going places - definitely farther than the Nexus Q ever would have. Even if I wasn't really into any of these services hardcore (I am) I could see this being a good impulse buy for people who are intrigued by the technology. If nothing else, the cost of the device alone sells it.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the Chromecast? Is it something that you're interested in?