Google recently announced the second generation of its fast-selling Chromecast HDMI media streaming/casting dongle, accompanied by an updated Chromecast mobile app. The new hardware includes dual-band wireless support, an adaptive antenna system, a choice of three colors, an attached, flexible HDMI cable, and a new rounded form factor. The price remains unchanged, and the device is available immediately.
The new Chromecast application now offers control of multiple devices and Fast Play, a pre-fetch capability intended to allow more responsive initiation of playback for the user. Additionally, the new app adds content discovery to the equation, presenting the user with a list of all the Chromecast-compatible content on their phone or tablet, culled from compatible content applications such as YouTube and Netflix. Content choices are organized by category. A search bar across Chromecast compatible content choices rounds out the new app's facilitation of content consumption.
The new Chromecast brings enhancements in hardware design, connectivity, and quality of service, 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 search and discovery functionality covers significant ground between users having to formerly engage with several different apps, and needing to deal with only one; this brings the Chromecast more in line with a traditional single-app over-the-top consumption experience.
This upgraded user experience in turn makes the new Chromecast a more significant low end threat to full-featured products from Roku, Apple, and Amazon, and combined with the other enhancements that have been announced, will sustain the strong growth shown by Chromecast since its inception. This growth in popularity is occuring in conjunction with growth in third party developer support of the Google Cast standard.
IHS has thus adjusted its forecast trajectory upward for Chromecast, with 2015 shipments expected to reach 15.6 million units globally, making it the most popular standalone media streaming device being purchased today, far outshipping its next closest rival, Apple TV, at only 10 million units for the year. The global Chromecast installed base is expected to reach 25.4 million units by the end of 2015, with Apple TV at 33.4 million units. Chromecast is also conservatively expected to surpass Apple TV in global installed base by the end of 2017, at 53 to 51 million units respectively.