Google?s Chromecast makes mobile linchpin in play for living room access
By placing mobile squarely at the center of Chromecast as the content source and the means of control, Google is poised to play a significantly bigger role in living room experiences going forward.
Google, Apple and other high-tech firms have struggled before in their attempts to gain entry into the television watching habits of consumers. However, reports suggest that the low-priced Chromecast is already selling strongly, having sold out on Amazon.com.
?If Chromecast works as advertised, Google is on to a new revolution,? said Salim Hemdani, vice president of software development at Mixpo. ?In a matter of months, Chromecast will be deployed in millions of households.
?Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Apple, Samsung, etc., are at war for living room experiences, but none of them offer a solution that is low-cost, ubiquitous and platform-agnostic,? he said.
?Chromecast is a Trojan horse that can very well help Google dominate living room experiences in the future.?
The price is right
Chromecast is an attachment that plugs into any HDTV. Once plugged in, users connect it to their home Wi-Fi and can then use their smartphone, tablet or laptop to send videos and other content to their TV. It works with Android as well as iOS devices and with apps such as Netflix.
One of the big selling points for the device is that it costs just $35, which is significantly less than other options out there for bringing Internet content onto to TVs.
The device was introduced on July 24 and appears to be making a big impact with consumers already.
The Los Angeles Times was reporting yesterday that Chromecast had already sold out on Amazon.com and Best Buy?s online stores less than 24 hours after going on sale.
Compared to Apple TV, what sets Chromecast apart is that it is not limited to the Android ecosystem. This is because Google is hoping the device will help ensure online searches from TVs are done via its own search engine.
?Mobile devices are great for single-user content consumption,? Mr. Hemdani said. ?TV, on the other hand, is completely different - the innate human nature to share content is easily satisfied via this medium.
?Apple TV has elegantly solved this, but Apple's offering is limited to its own ecosystem,? he said. ?For Google, it's all about increasing online content consumption and search.
?Leveraging mobile in this way expands horizons for second-screen experiences.?
Enhanced second-screen experiences
With Chromecast, Google is hoping to take advantage of the second screen trend, with consumers increasingly engaging with their mobile devices while watching TV to search for products they see, comment on programming and other activities.
"Mobile plays a big role in Chromecast because it is essentially the source of the content, while still allowing you to use that device for other things,? said Alex Campbell, chief innovation officer of Vibes, Chicago. ?Rather than having to buy a separate box, such as Apple TV, with Chromecast, you?re really just sending Web content up to the larger TV screen.
"As a consumer, it gives me one less thing to buy and install,? he said. ?Because Chromecast works on handheld devices, both Android and iOS, mobile plays a huge role.
"Most people have their phones on them while watching TV, so it?s a natural remote, so to speak."
Content a challenge
However, Chromecast ? like other players in this area ? will have to get content providers to add Chromecast functionality to their app or Web site.
Another potentially bigger challenge is getting access to content.
?The major challenge is getting access to the content itself and dealing with the existing television environment with all the bundles, rights and legal confusion,? Mr. Campbell said. ?Expect some freak-out with television content providers that want to control and protect their subscriber base.
?For example, cable providers don?t want you to be able to watch HBO via Chromecast and HBO GO if you?re not a cable subscriber,? he said. ?That?s going to be messy and has the potential to slow consumer adoption.
?I can?t get HBO GO through Roku just because I?m a Comcast subscriber, but I can if I?m on AT&T U-verse. Expect more of that.?
However, Google will need to answer a lot of questions about ads will be delivered and tracked first.
"Chromecast is a gateway to innovation and long-term growth not only for Google but multiple partners and advertisers across the ecosystem," said Nikao Yang, senior vice president of new business development and marketing at AdColony, Los Angeles.
"There needs to be a level of comfort for advertisers with Chromecast: Will video ads look as good on a huge screen as they do on desktop or mobile devices?" he said. "Are advertisers going to know when their ad has been viewed on the big screen as opposed to a tablet? And will they pay more when their ad is viewed via Chromecast?"
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York