Google takes the cloud to the living room

Nick Dillon/Ovum
26 Jul 2013

At a recent press event, Google outlined its latest assault on the TV space with its new Chromecast TV streaming device. The device marks Google’s third attempt at bringing the living room into the Google sphere of influence, and this time its focus is on cost and cloud services.

The device provides a most direct threat to digital media receivers such as Roku and the slew of HDMI Android stick manufacturers, but the move will also be of concern to content providers and broadcasters as the device will help to break down the barriers between the PC and the TV.

Additionally, Google has announced a refresh of its Nexus 7 tablet and the latest version of its mobile OS, Android 4.3.

Chromecast offers internet TV at a knock-down price

Chromecast is a small HDMI dongle that allows internet media services, such as YouTube, Nextflix, and Google Play, to be streamed to a TV. The device can be controlled by a range of devices (including Android, iOS, Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS), but unlike Apple TV the content is streamed directly from the Internet rather than from the device itself. In addition, users will be able to send websites viewed in the Chrome browser onto their TV, a feature which uses the emergent WebRTC streaming protocol.

A key selling point of the device is its price, which at $35 significantly undercuts Google’s previous TV products (the Google TV platform and the Nexus Q streaming device), as well as Apple TV and Roku player. As an added incentive Google is currently offering three months of free access to Netflix to accompany the device.

The Chromecast is Google’s best shot yet at cracking the mainstream connected TV market, a challenge that it and others have so far failed to accomplish. While the price is certainly right, the challenge for Google is to work out how to successfully market the device outside a small group of early adopters. If Google does manage to get the formula right, this would be hugely significant for the company, giving it a proper foothold in TV and a step closer to the colossal advertising budgets which accompany it.

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