Google’s new $35 Chromecast could pose an even larger threat to cord-cutting rivals Roku, Apple and Amazon.
“The new Chromecast brings enhancements in hardware design, connectivity, resolution and quality of service,” said IHS Technology senior analyst Paul Erickson, “but the most significant upgrade is in the Chromecast application and resulting improvement in overall ease of use for the mainstream consumer.”
The new content-discovery feature “covers significant ground between users having to formerly engage with several different [Chromecast-enabled apps] apps and needing to deal with only one; this brings the Chromecast more in line with a traditional over-the-top consumption experience.”
The upgraded user experience, combined with the other enhancements, “will sustain the strong growth shown by Chromecast since its inception,” he continued.
During a launch event yesterday, Google product management VP Rishi Chandra said the redesigned Chromecast app for mobile devices lets users view all Cast-enabled app loaded on a consumer’s phone in one place and lets users search for featured content in one spot.
The new Chromecast is a disk-shaped Wi-Fi-equipped dongle that plugs into the HDMI port of a TV. From a Cast-enabled video- or music-streaming app such as HBO and soon SlingTV, consumers press the Cast button to tell the dongle to begin streaming content from the Cloud direct to the TV. A Cast-enabled app reduces mobile-device battery consumption because the app does not stream content from the Cloud to the mobile device and then retransmit the content over Wi-Fi to the TV.
Chromecast also casts content appearing on mobile-device screens and computer screens to a TV.
Other new enhancements on the 1080p device include integrated HDMI cable to make it easier to plug into crowded HDMI ports. For improved Wi-Fi reception, the dongle adds dual-band 802.11 ac and a new adaptive-antenna system to deliver higher quality video with less buffering.
IHS adjusted its forecast upward for Chromecast and expects 2015 shipments to hit 15.6 million units globally, far out-shipping its next closest rival, Apple TV, at only 10 million units for the year, he said.
The global Chromecast installed base will hit 25.4 million units by the end of 2015, with Apple TV at 33.4 million units, he forecast. Chromecast will surpass Apple TV in the global installed base by the end of 2017, at 53 to 51 million units, respectively, he added.