Chromecast is turning to be a platform enabler, and Apple isn’t joining the party.
Chromecast is an HDMI dongle that connects to a TV on one side and to WiFi for the network. It can then interact with anything Google to display whatever it is there is to display on that TV.
While this is rather simplistic, it turns out Google has more plans to this small and cheap dongle – at least that’s what they showcased in Google I/O for it. Chromecast is transitioning from a device into a platform. And the technology behind it is now called Google Cast.
What is most interesting to me is who is developing a similar product and who isn’t.
Roku is one of the streamer device vendors. Their set top boxes are great OTT devices. A Chromecast is a threat to such a vendor, so it made sense for them to develop and launch their own version of it – Roku Streaming Stick.
This one has its own remote, and is probably no different than their Roku set top boxes in terms of the user experience.
It seems like Mozilla is going after this market with their own HDMI stick. Something that for me is an oddity. It is as if Mozilla is doing their best to try and piss off their main source of income… now after developing their own Firefox OS for mobile, going for H.264 with Cisco in WebRTC.
What’s next? A Mozilla search engine?
Can’t really understand what’s in it for them.
The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter is Microsoft’s take on the HDMI stick. They took it to the direction of enhancing Microsoft’s experience on any of their devices to the large screen – be it a TV or a projector.
Their intent and target market is clearly seen from the promotion video they have for it:
Apple doesn’t seem to have anything in this category. The Apple TV is the closest thing, along with their AirPlay technology, it is a good solution for the closed garden ecosystem that is Apple.
Apple doesn’t really need an iCast device – they are content in drilling down within their existing customer base. Apple isn’t in the business of putting a foot in the door of other ecosystems…
What’s in an HDMI Stick?
There is a large number of HDMI dongles on Amazon. Some of them mimic the basic functionality of the Chromecast. A lot of them are Android wrapped in a dongle. These, and I am afraid the Roku and Mozilla HDMI sticks are going to lose the game here. What they lack is the platform view of Google and Microsoft in this game.
For Google, Chromecast is another touch point for Android and Chrome. Their announcements from Google I/O included the ability for friends to use a Chromecast device without being in the same WiFi network and a Backdrop service that can use Google+ photos as a kind of a screen saver. Add to that Android auto cast capabilities, and you have a very interesting technology coupled with (or without) a device.
For Microsoft, the MWDA (I won’t write that mouthful name again) is all about getting rid of wires in meeting rooms and connecting a PC or Surface device to the TV at home with ease. For the time being, it doesn’t seem to hold any additional capabilities; but as it is, this ability alone is important for the ecosystem that is Microsoft.
An HDMI stick is a lot more than a device. It is connected to the network and aware at all times. It is an opportunity to create an ecosystem.