Monday, August 19, 2013

A Review of Google's Chromecast - Leveraging the Discovery and Control Powers of Second Screen

We have often discussed in this blog the 4 major features sets of second screen (To Control, To Discover, to Enhance, to Share - relevant research linked here and here).  We have also reviewed what Netflix was experimenting with for leveraging the 2nd Screen as a discovery and control device via DIAL (try opening Netflix on your iPhone while it is also running on your PS3, find the blog here).  Finally, we have predicted what a DIAL-enabled world might look like with its major backers (Netflix and YouTube) driving the protocol acceptance into every new device launch since early 2013 (DIAL blog here, 10 predictions here).

Well ChromeCast is the incarnate of all those opportunities and at the same time evidence of where the industry will head with rapid adoption.  While we have tried to tell the SmartTV industry that the best implementation for their platform is to be the launch pad for the stream, Chromecast demonstrates that use case out right.

Similar to an Apple experience, the packaging of the device in simple and clean.  The small dongle device comes with a power cord and USB cord (alternative for power) and an adapter in case your HDMI port is in a tight spot.

Setup was easy, though not as straight forward as it could have been.  But once established, the device and its Control and Discovery functionality are powerful.  The same YouTube or Netflix app you already have now has a new icon on it when the DIAL protocol detects the device on the same Wi-Fi network.  And then, similar to Airplay, you choose the device to send the stream to.  However, unlike Apple, the Chromecast dongle then takes over the stream, freeing your tablet or smartphone to be the discovery and control device instead of leaving it shackled as a streaming terminal.

While I encountered the occasional error, for the most part, the 2 apps delivered their functionality robustly.  

This is what a DIAL-enabled living room will look like.

This is where 2nd Screen is powerful--control and discovery.

There are of course additional use cases around enhanced companion experiences and social engagement, but this is a powerful step.

The real winning use case of course is to combine the power of NextGuide or BuddyTV with this device (or any DIAL enabled device).  Rather than live through the "easter egg hunt" of checking multiple apps for your desired content, you would use a Discovery app and then launch your content to the appropriate device in your living room.

Welcome to the second screen-powered living room--control and discovery like it was envisioned in the beginning.  That creates consumer utility--a reason for the consumer to pick up the 2nd screen and use that app again and again, creating the opportunity for engagement in both social and enhanced use cases--which provides the opportunity for monetization.

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