Google’s Chromecast is about to blow up. After a relatively inauspicious start, miles behind competition like Apple TV and Roku, the last few weeks have seen big moves for the little streaming stick. The device more than doubled its app collection last week, adding new features like the ability to stream user content from the cloud, as well as an announced forthcoming app from online network TV broadcaster, Aereo. Now, a report from Gigaom reveals a bold new path for the device in 2014, which includes international release, an open software development kit (SDK), and more.
Chromecast has grown extremely popular since its release, mainly as an incredibly affordable way to access a few apps like Netflix and Youtube on your TV. However, considering the Goliath behind it, the $35 streaming stick has always seemed rather underdeveloped in the application department, especially in comparison to Google’s other baby, Android. But Google has revealed big plans to expand Chromecast in the future, possibly even beyond the stick itself. In other words: Chromecast could redefine what we currently think of as Smart TV.
In an interview, Google’s VP of Product Management, Mario Queiroz, detailed plans to expand Chromecast into international markets, in part to help make the system less of a walled-garden of select applications, and more like the open source system that helped make the company’s Android OS sail into the top spot in the U.S. mobile market. Despite only unveiling a preview of Chromecast’s yet unfinished SDK, Queiroz said that hundreds of developers are already working on creating Chromecast support for their apps. Google also recently hosted an international “hackathon” that allowed 40 developers from 30 countries to play with the most recent Chromecast SDK to help Google put on the finishing touches, with plans for a full release of the kit to developers at large in the works.
But that appears to be just the beginning. Apart from the forthcoming explosion of apps to Chromecast with its SDK release, Queiroz also detailed a plan to move the casting powers of Chromecast out of body, so to speak, allowing for “Google Cast” to be utilized in an integrated ecosystem. Queiroz said there have already been “serious conversations” with multiple players in the electronics industry to make Google Cast present in other devices as a standard protocol.
All this should come as little surprise to anyone familiar with how Google rolls. The initial Chromecast release of rudimentary casting seems almost childlike in the grander scheme, especially from a company with Google’s near-unlimited resources. And now, the proposed expansion with other partners could see Google Cast invading electronics devices all over the industry.
Meanwhile, after months of a snail’s-paced release of worthy applications, it looks like the tide is finally rolling in for Chromecast. Users who have already bought in – an undisclosed number that can only be estimated from its enormous popularity at Amazon and Best Buy – are promised to be rewarded with a bright future for the little dongle. And even before the SDK is dropped in the hands of developers, Queiroz promised that more apps are already on the way.
It can be hard to project which Google products are going to land on their feet or flop (see Google +, and Google TV) but Chromecast is already a hit for the tech super giant, and one it seems utterly determined to expand upon. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for Chromecast, and Google Cast at large. But with Google at the helm, anything is possible.