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| June 24, 2017

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Google Chromecast: The potential and the stripped reality

Google Chromecast: The potential and the stripped reality
Jason Leci

The consumer market has been abuzz since the launch of the Chromecast as Google gives the home entertainment arena another shot. And looking at the initial “Sold Out” signs, the strategy to sell the Chromecast at the dirt cheap price of $35 is working. To spice things up even further, the initial lot of the Chromecast devices was coming with a free 3-month subscription of Netflix, making it an offer package you just wouldn’t pass off. The offer was, of course, limited and finished early owing to the overwhelming response.

Now obviously there are more-established players like Apple TV and Roku in the TV streaming arena where the current limits of the Chromecast are clearly exposed.  Chromecast as of now is clearly a work in progress with only YouTube and Netflix available, but that is not to say that there won’t be more services and media providers in the future. What is working for the Chromecast at the moment is its compact size (~ 2 inches) and the fact that it is an inexpensive media streaming device as compared to Apple TV ($99) and Roku ($89). And mind you that for a consumer driven market, price is a very important feature in itself.


Just a scaled-down version of Google TV

Google has already tried its hand at TVs before with its less successful Google TVs. And going by the device name, it is understandable to think that Chromecast was running on a tweaked version of Chrome OS. But hacking community GTVHacker has already managed to root the device and it turns out that Chromecast is just a stripped down version of Google TV with the Bionic and Dalvik VM replaced with a single binary. Here’s the vid for the nerdy ones: –



Now that was pretty quick. GTVHacker has iterated that the bootloader, kernel, init scripts and binaries are all from the Google TV. In other words, it is a pint-sized Google TV. Now while this device hack isn’t necessarily a good thing, it does give the scope for tinkering and tweaking the device a lot and with no substantial expenses involved.  It might turn out to a medium to aid the popularity of the Chromecast in the coming days.

Sidney Trump
Sidney Trump

I guess it is the thin end of the wedge. How? This is how -

> the cheap $ 35 device become very popular - everyone buys it

> Since everyone buys it anyway to plug in their TVs, the TV makers take note, and incorporate the platform in the TV itself

> Google TV is everywhere