Google’s New $35 Chromecast Device Streams to TVs; Google gets deeper into hardware with new tablet, TV gadget

July 24, 2013, 1:40 PM

Google’s New $35 Chromecast Device Streams to TVs

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Mario Queiroz, Vice President of Product Management at Google, holds up a new Google Chromecast SDK as he speaks during a special event at Dogpatch Studios on July 24, 2013 in San Francisco.

By Amir Efrati and Greg Bensinger

Google GOOG -0.10% unveiled a device to help people connect their TVs to mobile devices so that they can view and listen to Web content on the biggest screen in their homes. The two-inch device, called Chromecast, looks like a thumb drive and is based on Google’s ChromeOS software. The device, available today for $35 at Bestbuy.com Amazon.com AMZN -0.70% and the Google Play store, also works with Apple mobile devices. Chromecast will allow people to select YouTube video content using their Web-connected tablet, for instance, and have it play on their television. It echoes similar technology from Apple called Airplay and from Microsoft MSFT +0.44% called Smartglass.Chromecast plugs into the HDMI port of a television and prompts a person’s mobile device to download a Chromecast app and then connect the device to a Wi-Fi network.

The device works with Android smartphones, Chrome-powered laptops and even Apple’s iPad and iPhone. “We have a multi-platform approach…and we go where the users are,” said Google’s chief of Chrome and Android, Sundar Pichai, in an interview at an event in San Francisco.

Chromecast is the latest example of Google flexing its hardware-manufacturing muscle. Pichai said the company worked with a hardware maker in Taiwan to build the device, which he said he hopes will be embedded within new TVs and other devices in the future. Earlier this year Google introduced a a ChromeOS-based laptop designed and manufactured with an undisclosed Asian partner, and in 2014 it will release its Google Glass wearable-computing device.

Chromecast represents another effort by Google to become a bigger fixture in people’s living rooms, one of the growing battlegrounds in consumer tech. Amazon.com is working on a set-top box for streaming video and Apple too is developing television technology, according to people familiar with the companies’ plans.

Google’s past TV efforts have had some challenges. GoogleTV, software that is embedded in some TVs and devices that connect to televisions, was released in 2010 but failed to gain much traction. Pichai on Wednesday said new Google TV devices, which help people search and watch both cable TV and Web connect, will be released in the future.

Google’s Android unit also has been working on developing a videogame console, people familiar with the matter have said.

Google gets deeper into hardware with new tablet, TV gadget

4:29pm EDT

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google Inc on Wednesday showcased a new-generation, slimmer Nexus 7 tablet that the Internet search company hopes will expand its presence in consumer hardware, and ensure that its online services remain front-and-center on mobile devices.

The latest Nexus 7, featuring a Qualcomm Inc Snapdragon processor and a higher display resolution, on July 30 will be priced at $229 for a basic version with 16 gigabytes of storage. The original year-old tablet started at $199 for an 8 gigabyte version.

Sundar Pichai, head of Android and Chrome software, said on the sidelines of an event to launch the tablet that the Internet company would make a profit off the new product. The first-generation Nexus 7, which marked its initial foray into mobile electronics, was financially a break-even product for the company, analysts have said.

“The new Nexus 7 is designed so that it’s profitable for all the people involved. Retailers, us, everyone included,” Pichai told Reuters.

Also on Wednesday, Google revived an earlier attempt to get into online video streaming with the introduction of the “Chromecast” — a two-inch $35 gadget that will plug into the back of televisions and let users stream YouTube and Netflix videos via their smartphones.

The announcements come a week before Google’s Motorola division is expected to unveil the Moto X smartphone in New York. The Moto X represents the first phone Motorola has developed since it was acquired by Google for $12.5 billion in May 2012, and is central to relaunching the venerable brand into a highly competitive mobile market.

Google and other traditionally non-hardware companies such as Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp have begun making inroads into mobile devices as consumers increasingly access the Web on the go. It introduced its first tablet in June 2012, hoping to replicate its smartphone success in a hot market presently dominated by Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Apple Inc’s iPad.

Google, which gets the lion’s share of its revenue from online and mobile advertising, wants the aggressively priced Nexus tablets to be a hit as more users would mean increased exposure for its ads.

Its Nexus line, which include smartphones and tablets made by partners like Samsung Electronics and HTC, also serve as references for manufacturers across the globe adopting its Android mobile software system.

THE NEXUS Q RETURNS?

On Wednesday, Pichai told reporters that, since its launch, the Nexus 7 line alone has accounted for greater than 10 percent of all Android tablets sold.

The company was on track to see 70 million total Android tablet activations in 2013, versus a pace of about 10 million at the end of 2012, he said.

Its new Chromecast gadget, however, will employ a stripped-down version of the Chrome operating system, now used primarily for laptop computers.

The device, which will be sold from Wednesday, invited comparisons to the short-lived “Nexus Q”, which also promised to stream consumers’ digital music and other content directly to their home entertainment systems. But Google indefinitely postponed the launch of the Q before it went on sale last year, following a spate of negative reviews.

Chromecast will allow users to employ their smartphones almost like remote controls, letting them play and control video applications without using a traditional remote.

“The Nexus Q was part of our effort to do the same thing. We didn’t launch that, but a lot of learnings,” Pichai told Reuters after the event. “Nexus Q was all about how you send content, so that was an inspiration for this.”

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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