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Android TV Chromecast Apparently Coming, but Is It a Good Idea?

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Updated: April 20th, 2020 at 10:44 pm

Google is reportedly working on a new Chromecast device. One that’s apparently going to be quite different to previous versions in one central respect – it comes with Android TV

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The news on this comes from 9to5Google who credits a “reliable source familiar with the company’s plans” for the information. Besides the inclusion of Android TV, the details are limited and very much in line with what you would expect. For example, 4K HDR support, Android app support, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, a remote control, and so on. 

For reference, this is likely to be the remote for the Android TV-powered Chromecast:

While a remote control might add to the Chromecast experience, the inclusion of Android TV would significantly enrich the product. However, it remains to be seen if this is actually the right move by Google. In many ways, it is an absolutely needed move by the company, and therefore it is not the move that’s specifically being questioned, but the approach. 

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An Android TV stick is needed, but is this the right option?

Comparing Android TV to Roku or Fire OS at the consumer level and it is clear that Google has a problem. While Android TV is going to pick up plenty of platform users through the vast number of operators who have signed up to the program, when it comes to consumer device sales, Amazon and Roku lead the way. 

One of the likely reasons for this is their approach to sticks. Both companies offer a TV dongle-based device and at a cheap price. In fact, during the various annual sales, these dongles can typically be picked up extremely cheap, making them insanely good value and an easy way to instantly attract platform users.

In contrast, Android TV doesn’t have any devices to compete at this level. It does offer some cheaper units although these come from third-party companies and the experience can often be cheap as well. Having a first-party product would ensure that Google has a viable device to compete at this level of the consumer market, while also guaranteeing a certain experience quality.

However, the Chromecast line has never really had an issue selling and it remains to be seen if combining the two products is the right move to make. To put the selling point into perspective, by the end of 2016, Google had sold more than 30 million Chromecast units and by the end of the next year, the number was over 55 million. That was over two years ago.

Chromecast is a unique product and fills a space in the market neatly. While one powered by Android TV would certainly enrich the product and experience, did everyone who previously purchased a Chromecast want such a rich experience? Is that not sort of the point of the original device to begin with? Furthermore, if they just wanted to access their favorite apps on the TV itself, then they had the choice of the Roku Streaming Stick or the Fire TV Stick to pick from.

In other words, there was no need for them to specifically buy a Chromecast unless it was the lightweight OS, the lack of a fully-fledged platform, and the compatibility with their phone that they actually wanted.

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Again, Android TV is in desperate need of a stick-based device, but it just remains to be seen if doing away with its current (and popular) Chromecast experience is the right way to go about the problem.

Of course, that’s if Google is doing away with Chromecast altogether. If the company simply opts to releases a new Chromecast series where consumers have the choice of opting in or out of Android TV, that’s a different story. 

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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