Now any app developer can easily incorporate Chromecast capability. And any is a very broad group. It’s not just Android — GOOG is officially supporting Google Chromecast connectivity in iOS, Mac OS, Chrome OS and Windows too.
GOOG isn’t charging any fees, and it’s even gone to the extreme of making the Google Chromecast SDK part of its Google Play service package — this means the functionality will be compatible with older versions of Android, side-stepping that fragmentation issue that plagues GOOG.
Here’s the scenario that’s playing out.
The Google Chromecast is essentially an impulse buy at $35. It’s a third of the price of an Apple TV! For Android fans — the majority of the mobile world — and Chromebook owners (a rapidly growing group), this is a dirt-cheap way to extend your functionality to the big screen of your TV.
If you’re an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Windows PC owner (no joy for Windows Phone), GOOG isn’t going to try to get you to switch devices, but it’s going to offer the best of the Android experience on your platform. Just like it does by offering Google Maps or Goggle Now on iOS, it has made Google Chromecast compatibility a free and easy option.
As Chromecast adoption gains momentum, expect developers to pile on, especially cross-platform developers who now have any easy way to offer a consistent TV streaming experience for their apps, regardless of whether the user is on an iPhone, a Galaxy S4 or a Windows PC.
Combine a dirt-cheap streaming device in the Google Chromecast with apps coming from all major PC and mobile platforms, and you have a recipe for Google to pull away from the competition and dominate the set-top streaming market.
The Apple TV — a living room pioneer that’s limited by AAPL’s walled garden approach — is in danger of becoming an also-ran; Roku will find it difficult to entice developers to release apps for its Channel Store; and if Amazon releases a set-top box, it’s going to face a much tougher market than it would have faced a year or two ago.
This is all well and good, but what’s the GOOG end game? Having the Google Chromecast become the dominant TV streaming device is great, but it doesn’t make any money from being number one.
Remember that Google is all about ad revenue. This developer has already found evidence in Google Chromecast source code that supports the display of banner ads.
I think it’s safe to say that GOOG intends to stay on script, turn the Google Chromecast into the Android of TV streamers and leverage all those eyeballs to generate ad revenue. After all, the company may not be “evil,” but it has to make money.
As of this writing, Brad Moon doesn’t own any securities mentioned here.