Aug 5, 2013
I predict that in a year from now, the Chromecast will be the dominant way to beam video from smart devices to TVs. Sure, that’s not really a bold prediction: we’re talking about $35 HDMI dongles versus a $99 box from Apple, but still, considering that Apple had possibly the biggest stake in the game so far.
Of course, the reason why is the very same reason why Android has a bigger market share than iOS, but why Apple generally wins the profit battle: Apple’s more concerned with building out its own ecosystem. Apple wants its users to buy more Apple products that interact with each other, and little things like AirPlay (still a ‘hobby’ to them) are steps in that direction. Plus, they encourage brand loyalty because it’s hard to break free of things like iMessage and iCloud.
The difference here is that Google wants to all but yoink AirPlay out from under its feet by not just making a platform for streaming from Android, but from iOS and Mac as well. They’re jumping on Apple’s turf and there’s nothing they can do about it at this point. By almost-stealthily putting the APIs in and launching right away, they’ve managed to get a foothold on iOS, and they have made their little streaming stick compelling to everyone.
In a sense, that’s what Google has to do: they’re a service company, and their hardware has to find a way to support their services. So they are better off with making sure that their hardware can push their services. After all, they’re all about data and the collection thereof, and anything that increases their ubiquity is a win to them. If it happens on the backs of iPhone and iPad users, then, hey – nothing wrong with that.
Of course, it all provides subtle pushes toward Android. Like Chromecast but want the ability to control it from the notification bar? Why, we provide that handy feature for you! Like Google Now in the Google app? Wouldn’t it be better if it could be accessed through a system-level gesture or button? Hey, Android provides that!
But ultimately, Chromecast just might win because Google is not only providing a compelling reason to buy its hardware, but it’s also making sure that everyone can take part, and developers will have plenty of reasons to develop for it. And because Apple has yet to explode with AirPlay, Google might just be the dominant player after all.