Chromecast, the Google trojan horse

Chromecast was all the rage last week. The cheap, easy to use $35 dongle turning your TV into a giant wireless display.

I'm not going to write a device review - others already did a good job here, here and there.

What personally stroke me is how Google changed its tactical approach to reach the same objective.

Remember: back in 2010 or so, as part of a broader initiative to get its services on as many screens as possible, Google announced Google TV. The platform was meant to bring Google to the main screen, by seamlessly integrating linear programming, VOD, YouTube, and basically turning your TV into a big Chrome browser - and targeted ads recipient.

Flop. Or rather, epic fail.

Fast forward three years. Google's Android system is insanely successful, YouTube domination is undisputed, but still, one screen is resisting. The TV.

Here comes Chromecast. There is a lot more in it for Google than just a piece of hardware. It's a way for Google to hack its way (back?) into the living room by short-circuiting everyone, from hardware manufacturers to broadcasters to content providers. With this very low price tag, it's Google's window to give as many people as possible a taste of what Google TV experience is supposed to be.

You'll buy it for what it does now: play YouTube and Netflix videos, display Chrome tabs on your TV (including videos). Limited for now, but enough (in Google's view, and mine as well) to get to the critical mass and develop in two steps:

1/ Ignite

Entice developers to make their apps compatible with the Google Cast API. It's cross-platform (including iOS), open to anyone, and have a lot more possibilities than competing Apple's AirPlay. By example, in a slightly more far fetched but already supported scenario, you could play MMORPG running in the cloud, directly streamed to your TV via Chromecast (just like Netflix today), your smartphone being the controller. Watch out OnLive! I'm pretty sure developers will have more imagination than me - expect a land rush going on in the coming months.

2/ Integrate

With an established user base and a large apps support, Google Cast API will appeal to the hardware manufacturers, and they will integrate it natively into their wifi enabled devices - by this time, it may mean all of them.

Job done!

With this trojan horse into the living room, Google may ultimately get where they intended to in the first place: securing a channel for Google to distribute their services to as many possible TV screens as possible; it may not be called Google TV anymore, but it's damn close!

Have to go now, and get myself my own Chromecast.

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