This past week in class we discussed the evolution of Samsung’s hardware product amidst the current television, multi-device revolution.
But what is “television” these days, the class asked? While the industry has historically viewed a “television” as that big box in our living room, perhaps that definition is changing. We now “watch television” on our mobile phones, on our laptops and tablets. When we refer to “great television”, we refer to a True Detective (first season only) or a Breaking Bad — not the actual hardware. Perhaps, then, “television” is no longer the device itself, but actually the content we consume.
What is perhaps even more important, though, is that while television programming used to consist solely of network programming via cable or satellite companies, the internet has created the space for new kinds of content on brand new platforms (think: YouTube, Netflix). These channels have become integral to our content consumption behaviors and are disrupting the traditional model. As content consumers, we are now in power; we can choose what we want to watch, when we want to watch it, and where.
Many companies and organizations have adapted to this change. Comcast xfinity, for example, enabled both on-demand and live online streaming. Dish Network created Sling TV earlier this year, which allows users to sign-up for online television streaming for just $20. Meanwhile, tons of new complementary devices and technologies — i.e. Roku — have emerged to further serve and enable this new consumer power and choice.
And then there’s Google. King of the internet. A true digital innovator. As we saw with its acquisition of Nest technology, or the development of the Google Car, Google is a digital leader.
Enter the Google Chromecast, which I believe is far and away one of the best streaming technologies out there right now. At only $35 a pop, the portable device fits nicely in the palm of your hand, or in your pocket. You can take it anywhere and plug it into a television HDMI input. Hook it up to a wifi network, install the Chromecast extension on your preferred device (mobile phone, laptop, tablet), and cast anything you could watch on a Chrome browser (pretty much anything) to a larger screen.
While other devices come with pre-programmed channels or content packages, the Google Chromecast can turn any large screen with an HDMI into your own, customized Smart TV. In other words, with the help of the Chromecast, consumers now have the capability to design their own personalized streaming content packages. Anything available for streaming on the internet is eligible. I, for example, personally cut the cord with the traditional cable package long ago; I now use my Chromecast to watch YouTube, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix (via a family account), Comcast (also via a family account)…the list goes in.
Of course, the Chromecast is great for consumers. But it’s great for Google, too. Given the low price-point, it’s unlikely that Google is looking to make money off the device itself. The Chromecast, however, is deeply entrenched in the Google ecosystem and therefore incentivizes further use / adoption of other Google products: Chrome, YouTube, Google Play — to name a few. With yet another product, Google is one step closer to ruling our digital lives…
…Should we care? Maybe. But for the time being, I don’t / won’t. Because tonight I get to binge-watch old episodes of 30 Rock on my beautiful large screen and the easy, high quality experience will barely cost me anything.