Google's $35 smart-TV gadget sells out fast
The new Chromecast device, which plugs into your TV to stream online video and costs a fraction of an Apple TV, appears to be an instant hit with consumers.
Google (GOOG) unveiled a new consumer gadget this week: the Chromecast, a small, Wi-Fi-enabled device that plugs into your TV's HDMI port and allows you to stream high-definition video from your smartphone, tablet or laptop onto the big screen.
None of that may sound entirely new to the marketplace, but one feature is: the gadget's price.
By Thursday afternoon, a day after its official release, the device was already temporarily sold out on Amazon.com (AMZN) and Best Buy's (BBY) website. Some savvy Amazon merchants were reselling the gadget for upward of $89.
That promotional offer could give Netflix -- and other streaming services, down the road -- a big subscriber bump, says Forbes' Matt Hickey. What's more, the Chromecast could make it easier and cheaper than ever for an average household to "cut the cord" and cancel their cable or satellite TV service -- something many disgruntled customers may be eager to do.
With its $35 price tag, Hickey says, the Chromecast takes what was previously a very thought-out decision and makes it "the sort of impulse buy that someone can make at the checkout stand of their local Best Buy without thinking twice, and that is potentially huge for subscription-based streaming services."
So who should be worried most: smart-TV hardware makers like Apple and Roku, or TV providers like Comcast (CMCSA), Dish Network (DISH) and DirecTV (DTV)? Analysts don't see the Chromecast as an imminent threat . . . yet.
"It doesn't make Apple suddenly shake in their boots," Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey told CNBC. "If you are someone who has iPad, an iPhone or an Apple laptop, this isn't something you are going to buy. But there are hundreds of millions of people who don't, so it's a way to get people to try Google's platform and to get people who are already using the platform to like it even more."
For now, the Chromecast only works with Netflix, YouTube, and Play Store media, but Google intends to make it easy for other streaming companies to enable their content to work on the device. Whether they will get on board remains to be seen.
LOL. Why would I blow $35 for this pile of junk. My laptop has an HDMI connection and so does my tablet.
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