Why Google's Chromecast is a hit with consumers

Why Google's Chromecast is a hit with consumers

Summary: What's behind the success of Google's Chromecast dongle/set-side box? Price? Timing? The Google brand? Or will the Chromecast be a flash-in-the-pan?

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Early reports suggest that Google's Chromecast media streaming dongle/side-set box has been a hit with consumers, with the device selling out, and the device now rarer than hen's teeth.

See also: What's right (and wrong) with the Google Chromecast

So, what made the Chromecast a success with consumers?

  • Luck
    Never underestimate the power of pure luck in the success (or failure) of a device. Hitting the market at a time when there are few distractions, and at a time when consumers are more receptive to new ideas, can mean the difference between success and failure.
  • Price
    At $35, the Chromecast dongle is cheap. Dirt cheap. You can easily spend more than that on an HDMI cable.
    In a market where other devices have price tags ranging from $100 to $500, we now have a streaming device that is available for a bargain basement price.
    Google has broken new ground with the Chromecast, and it will be interesting to see how others respond.
  • Scarcity
    How many Chromecasts did Google make? Was there huge demand, or just limited supply?
  • Simplicity
    The Chromecast is a simple device. It has an HDMI port, and a power input port, and that's it. Once it is connected to the TV, you're instructed to download the Chromecast app that takes you through the set–up process, all of which takes a few minutes.
  • Streaming from the browser
    One of the coolest features of the Chromecast is that it can stream content from a tab in the Chrome browser.
    This means that consumers are freed from having to rely on specific apps being available for the device, and can stream anything they have access to from a browser.
  • The Google name
    Most consumers are aware of the Google brand, and this gives the company a leg up over lesser-known competitors such as Roku. The popularity of its search engine, its web-based services, and of Android has put Google onto a strong position.
  • Hole in the market
    Despite the Apple TV, the Roku, and games consoles such as the box and PlayStation, both of which have been transformed into streaming devices, the living room is still up for grabs. There are still hundreds of millions of TVs out there not connected to the vast ocean on online content.

Some things to keep an eye on:

  • Future sales – With the demand continue, or was it a flash-in-the-pan?
  • Competition – What will be the response to the Chromecast?
  • Price war – Will the Chromecast lead to a price drop across the market?

Topic: Hardware

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36 comments
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  • Likely just a low initial supply.

    "with the device selling out, and the device now rarer than hen's teeth"

    I would have to think that Google learned their lesson with the Nexus Q (what happened to the warehouses full of those?) and released this in limited quantities. Or MS over estimating initial RT sales.

    It sounds like there wasn't a lot to begin with, which would be a smart decision.
    William Farrel
    • yes

      It's a limited device with a need of a better router and fast internet......
      anywherehome
    • It was probably both

      Limited quantity because they didn't expect the huge demand, but it's also demand. The demand is still way high considering the shipping wait times of a month even now.

      And I bet many people who bought just one to test it, will buy more as soon as they become more readily available. At least that is my case. I bought one, loved it, and plan on buying two more for my other two TVs in the house.
      laequis
    • Miracast HD

      Much better than Chromecast is the new Miracast TV — which doesn’t limit the content you display like Chromecast does, and a new Miracast HD Wireless adapter ($39) became available this week, which offers a lot more features and works much more like Apple’s $100+ Airplay Wireless display technology –

      One of the first sources to carry this new device is TabletSprint – worth checking out for this alone… and for Android tablets, including a new series of tablets that launch next week that outprice and outperform the new Nexus… definitely worth reviewing.
      hportminnon10
  • impulse

    It's priced beyond bargain-bin, its' will into the realm of cheapness where people can buy it on impulse without really having to think about it. And...they do.
    jackmcnally6
    • True, but...

      Those impulse/first buyers will buy more now that they've tested it and love it. In most cases these first adopters have more than just one TV.
      laequis
      • Re: Those impulse/first buyers will buy more

        Not necessarily. The device functionality is still very limited. It is one thing to throw $35 once, and another to throw $35 few more times, if you see no reason to do so.

        If the device develops further, at least to DLNA/AirPlay type of functionality, it will be very valuable purchase.. but the price might not stay the same.
        danbi
    • Crapware is usually priced beyond bargain-bin

      But for $5 to $15 more you can get a MUCH BETTER devices that provide many more features. And they are from known name brands like Netgear, DLink, Roku and many others.

      And the best part of the better devices is that they are not designed to violate your privacy.
      wackoae
  • Managed scarcity?

    It's hard to imagine that Google misjudged demand by so much. Maybe they moved up timing for some reason (get ahead of Apple TV rumor?). Whatever, the abrupt withdrawal of the Netflix offer leaves a bad taste on this one.
    pete@...
    • I think they did misjudge it.

      I say that because the Netflix offer probably gave them fits as the numbers were going well beyond their first day sales projections.
      slickjim
    • They were caught off guard

      Why do you think they included the Netflix offer if they thought they had a potentially very popular item right off the bat? it's because they didn't expect this type of reaction and included the Netflix offer to better entice people to buy it. Little did they know that there was no need for the Netflix offer. People would have bought it in droves without it. As has been the case. The wait time is still a month.
      laequis
      • Let's not forget

        That "free stuff" is the bait Google has always used.

        With Google, when something is no longer "free", you need to consider they might no longer be interested..
        danbi
  • limited supply

    Leo Laporte cited an amazon source that told him amazon sold between 400k-500k the first day.

    If we had google play and best buy they probably sold at least one million+ of them.
    Jean-Pierre-
    • Umm

      I would bet most didn't even realize that Amazon sold it until it was gone. That likely means the Play store probably sold an equal or larger share.
      slickjim
  • "An amazon source"

    Unless someone releases numbers, sources, as we have found out lately, have been way off on what their "sources" have "told" them.
    William Farrel
  • I got one and its exactly what I needed

    I have a HDMI stick with android, and its OK, but this is exactly what I need most of the time. With that you still had to use the phone as a mouse or touchpad and the interface was not ideal. Now I only use that if I need to browse on the TV, but its not often.

    Its a cool idea - people at first said its not a new idea, but I really don't know.
    People who already have apple TV or Roku may not feel they need this, and I understand. But if you don't, I think this is the way to go it works really well as advertised. Plus you know more and more sources will be added over time. All I wanted was for mostly youtube and google music, which it already has.
    drwong
    • Yes they do...

      With Apple TV, you don't get apps until Apple says you do! Also, apple doesn't support Airplay screen redirection outside of the Mac. Yes there are 3rd party apps that do that but, they're half the price of this device.

      As for Roku, it is too disorganized and most of the free channel's have weak content. Couple that with the fact that it doesn't support redirection of any kind and Chromecast has it beat as well.

      Bottomline, Google really dropped a Bomb on the Content Streaming Industry and I could see it being king within a year.
      slickjim
      • Re: Yes they do...

        If you accept that what this device does has nothing to do with AirPlay or similar technologies, you could truly believe the "Google dropped the bomb". It is only that bomb fell on some other place, not where Apple TV is. It is also currently not a competition to Roku as well, because that device's primary strength is the media deals it provides.

        The Chromecast has great potential, but Google need to sort out a lot of licensing issues in order to make it any useful. Things like HDCP etc. There is a reason why Apple only provides AirPlay mirroring for Apple devices... and that is mostly because of licensing.
        danbi
  • It's a hit because it's stupid-simple to use

    The only problem I've found so far with Chromecast is "too many choices." With cable, you have a finite number of channels and programs available. But with Chromecast, which utilizes YouTube, Netflix, etc., it takes a while to find exactly what I want to watch! I settled on Trailer Park Boys, go figure.
    zaine_ridling
  • SmartTVs add about $100 to the price of an HDTV

    This is only $35 plus the loss of an HDMI port on your TV. Most people don't max out their HDMI ports (and getting an HDMI switch is only another $10 if you do), so this is a cheap and easy way to get Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube on your TV. You can even get regular Hulu through the browser, which goes out of its way to not let you do that on your TV.

    All of that plus mere fact that it's cheap enough to be an impulse purchase make it an instant hit.
    Michael Kelly