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.

By Jon Gorey Jul 25, 2013 5:40PM

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.

At $35, the Chromecast costs about a third of a $99 Apple (AAPL) TV box. It's also compatible with both Android and iOS platforms -- your smartphone or tablet acts as a kind of remote control -- or any computer operating a Chrome web browser.


By Thursday afternoon, a day after its official release, the device was already temporarily sold out on (AMZN) and Best Buy's (BBY) website. Some savvy Amazon merchants were reselling the gadget for upward of $89.


It's also being sold with a free three-month Netflix (NFLX) subscription -- a $24 value that is sure to help sales, the Los Angeles Times notes.


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.

The new Google Chromecast device is shown on July 24, 2013, in San Francisco, Calif. (copyright Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)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.

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Jul 26, 2013 11:17AM
anything that cuts cable cost i'm on board
Jul 26, 2013 8:49AM
I must be missing something.  I've had a networked media player for many years with access to multiple web-based services. True, it cost $15 more but has its own remote, etc. It's likely that "content providers" are going to block a lot of their stuff from playing on this device. Hope it's successful for Google because anything that diminishes the lock on the markets that Congress has given to the cable companies is a good thing.
Jul 26, 2013 12:45PM
If cable companies don't lower rates instead of INCREASING them , they will be bankrupt within 10 more years! they go up on rates and the solution to losing customers, which makes more leave. I know when My contract is up in October with Time Warner Cable I will be cutting services because I refuse and can not afford nearly $200 a month for services i now get for $98 and honestly it isn't even worth the $98 i pay now. 
Jul 26, 2013 12:21PM
As another commenter noted - go for Roku & Playon.  For about $100 total LIFETIME cost, you'll have more content than you could possibly watch.  If you're seriously thinking about cutting the cable, check out this combo.   I agree that it's more than $35, but as a start, it actually includes a remote control.  Duh?!   Works with your Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, too.
Jul 26, 2013 12:03PM
Thanks, but I'll stick with my Roku and PlayOn PC app. $40 lifetime subscription to anything you can stream.
Jul 26, 2013 11:26AM
Why buy this for $35 when you MS is now supporting Miracast?
Jul 26, 2013 12:03PM
I wouldnt buy this. It dosent store movies or tv shows or have access to all your purchased movies and videos in a click of a button. I will happily stick with my fantastic Apple TV
Jul 26, 2013 2:51AM

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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