Google’s Chromecast – Worth the Hype?

Eric D. Fescenmeyer is not convinced by Google’s latest hardware offering… 

So after a number of not so great shots at the TV market, Google launches Chromecast. Some say they’ve cracked the code and finally got onto the television. I am not as convinced. Understandably for Google, television viewership is a very tantalising market. After all, the financial goal of Google is to sell as much advertising as they can. So the question is, does Chromecast deliver television’s eyeballs to Google?

At its face, yes, it gets the Chrome browser on TVs in some form. In that regard, it’s a win. But we really need to look at how this technology chain works to understand if this is actually going to see some sort of impact for Google.

From what can be gathered from the copious press releases and reviews, this is how it would ideally work: A user fires up their laptop or mobile device, then access an application – perhaps Netflix, or YouTube – select media to consume, and then port it, wrapped in a Chrome browser tab, to the television set through Google’s new dongle. Follow that?

So the first benefit I’ve heard is a lot of exclamations that through this device Google has freed us from the tyranny of the remote control. But isn’t your phone or laptop essentially a remote control with this tech? It’s now a remote that uses battery quite quickly when streaming media. This is without taking into account the simultaneous sending and receiving of 1080p signal through the atmosphere. Have things gotten better or have we just traded in the esoteric understanding of the standard, non-standard remote control interface pain for the sorrow of sitting close to an outlet while watching TV?

ChromecastThe other big benefit is that it’s wireless. That’s a nice thing, as right now I still have to use an HDMI cable to get things from the laptop to the TV, so I guess at $35 it could actually be a win over buying a longer cable.

For me, this asks the ultimate question: does Chromecast do something better, or easier than something else?  That question, if answered well, points to a device that will deserve the laurels the press is currently giving out.  To change a consumer’s mind into adopting a different technology there has to be a payoff for retraining their habits. The best play is to make current activities easier but it appears to me that Chromecast actually increases the complexity of the task. It’s difficult for me to justify why I would trade in my Roku or even my WiFi-enabled Blu-ray player for one (It also bears mentioning that these devices, or something similar, are already in the same households where the Chromecast is targeted).

Put it another way, what’s the exciting part that encourages the viewer to wrap a Chrome browser around media they can already push to their TVs with devices that they’re familiar with and currently own? This is the answer that Google really needs to find, because while it’s nifty to throw around HDMI signals wirelessly, the actual utility behind it will eventually beg the question. Hopefully, there’s something more in the works that makes this aspect much more clear, because as it stands, it’s hard to justify anyone else winning but Google with this device.

1 COMMENT

  1. The writer seems to misunderstand how the Chromecast works. Better research should have been used.

    It does not stream video through your phone or tablet, it instructs the chromecast to pull the video directly from the web. This uses far less battery than streaming video to your phone, and frees your phone to other things. The interface is better than from a bluray player or roku, and it is far more portable.

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