Reading about Google’s new Chromecast, just now being introduced, I notice I now think differently about new products. Chromecast, which looks like a thumb drive, allows a users to see Internet video on their TV set, instantly and easily and for $35, which is what the device costs.
I would have once thought, “I wonder if it’s any good and whether people want it.” Now, I'm thinking, “What a great thing. What a potential game-changer. I wonder how long before there’s something that tops it or someone who stops it.”
I really have this feeling about Chromecast because it does seem so utterly easy and cheap, cheap, cheap, so much so you have to figure video gatekeepers and other OTT service providers must be working hard to find ways to kill it, or improve it. And also, that cables must be being cut all over the nation.
Chromecast does what you can do already—but probably don’t. It’s already possible and pretty easy to plug your laptop into your TV and see online video on a bigger screen. Of course, Smart TVs build that capability into the set. That’s why they’re so smart. But Chromecast makes it no muss, no fuss, no major outlay of money. It seems it is to online video-watching what Cliff Notes is to War and Peace.
Read the basic pitch from Google: “Chromecast works with devices you already own, including Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Chrome for Mac and Chrome for Windows. Browse for what to watch, control playback, and adjust volume using your device.”
Here’s the kicker last sentence. “You won't have to learn anything new.”
If you don’t think that resonates with the consumer public, consider this latest viral video about a frustrated computer user at an Apple store. We've all been there, one way or the other. But my melt down was in a Verizon shop.
Back to original subject: There’s a mountain of press coverage of the Chromecast intro, including a commercial that makes it look so intuitive. The spot uses actors in home situations that look like they shot in Anytown, USA. If I’m representative of the sheep-like American consumer public (and I think I am, dammit!) that commercial should help sell tens of millions of Chromecast thumbs.
As of this morning, Best Buy had but one user review for Chromecast: It began with this headline: Its (sic) about time google (sic, sic) did something like this. The text, (sics removed): “What's great about it: wireless streaming of anything on Chrome. What's not so great: no remote...depends on phone/tablet/computer...There are a lot of things you can do like wirelessly stream from your phone or tablet, but the thing that really drew me in in was the fact that you can watch wirelessly from your computer anything that is on Chrome and it goes to your TV. It has Netflix and hulu built in of course but some of the shows I watch weren't popular so they didn't get picked up by them. Now I can watch them on the big screen without the hassle of running cords.I would recommend this to a friend!”
That’s with .0000000001 of all precincts reporting, of course, but...
So now, I wonder what will stop it. Google itself says online video sites that fear millions of consumers accessing TV programming via the Web could make it difficult to do so. Which sounds absurd, but is at least a plausible/likely bump in the road.
Separately, but related, this is a news story—if a tech toy is news in most of the world—that displays the broad swath of information now available online. With a headline that reads, “Chromecast Could Be the Beginning of Google’s Domination of TV Delivery”, Forbes, so far, is the boldest.