In a very unexpected way, Google took the wraps off something almost no one saw coming: a tiny WiFI-enabled HDMI dongle that can push content from your smartphone or tablet to your TV. I would call it the answer to Apple's AirPlay but unlike AirPlay, this device works both with Android & iOS. Well done Google!
The Chrome Cast is a terrific device. As I'm writing this post, it's already sold out! A lot of thoughts have been put into it's R&D and given how synonymous Google is with innovation, it's nice to see that they took lessons learnt from the ill-fated Nexus Q and produced a smaller, cheaper and smarter device that can really make consumers experience content on their TVs in a whole new way!
Now I'm really excited about this device but I'm afraid it may be bad news for Smart TV makers. Here's why:
Smart TV Apps aren't that great
As a Smart TV user, I can confirm this: I barely use any of the apps and have never downloaded any new one. That is because it's a painful process to set them up.
Take Facebook for instance. Setting it up requires you to enter your email and password using an onscreen keyboard that you have to navigate through using the directional buttons on your remote control. Imagine doing that for Twitter, Skype, etc ... And if you share the TV with other family members, signing in and out means you have to restart this process all over every few days or hours. The experience really sucks and many Smart TV owners just don't bother with the apps.
Also, because every Smart TV manufacturer has it's own platform, developers haven't bothered building enough apps for the TV and those who did, didn't put in too much effort to provide a great experience.
Content consumption WINS
It doesn't matter how smart the TVs are getting. Consumers still buy TVs for one main reason: To consume content. From watching movies to music videos and occasionally pictures, that's still the top motivation. So here's how it works: aside watching local channels, we are either required to copy our content on a USD Drive and plug it into our smart TVs or consume content from video apps like Youtube. For the Tech-Saavy one, you could setup a media server and stream to your TV using an app like Plex but as I said, this is for Tech-Saavy people.
So far, Smart TVs haven't been great at grabbing content from our devices. Whether it's a video I want to play from my phone or a picture I want to show my friends, even though it's technically possible, it's not that simple for the majority of users.
What the Chrome Cast is doing here is letting users have a great user experience with their favorite apps on their mobile devices while giving them the option of consuming their content on their TV with no hassle.
The best part? It would work with any kind of TV as far as it has an HDMI port. Even if your TV doesn't have an HDMI port, you could always grab an HDMI to A/V adapter and make it work.
Why is this bad for the Smart TV market? Well because what makes a TV smart basically is the connectivity options it has and the apps that come with it. Manufacturers charge a premium for the "Smart" features and it's much more expensive than the 35 USD price tag of the Chrome Cast.
So in conclusion it's a no brainer for anyone to buy a normal TV and make it smart with a Chrome Cast.
What could also happen is TV manufacturers could integrate Chrome Cast's technology into their platforms if Google would allow that. I'm not too sure.
Whatever happens, the Chrome Cast is a must have and I'm looking forward to trying it out.