Wow. Google is nothing if not persistent. And at this point, the company is testing that whole "persistency pays off" adage like it's a nuclear waste site.
Wednesday, everybody's favorite oddly named Internet search engine emerged from the wake of Google TV to introduce ... wait for it ... Chromecast, a tiny stick that can plug into televisions. In short, it looks like a jump drive and it enables viewers to check out online programming through their TVs. Who says the 89th time isn't a charm?
“We are closing the gap between TV and mobile devices,” Sundar Pichai, the G-Men's senior vice president for Chrome and Android, noted with presumably only half a straight face.
Claire Cain Miller, of The New York Times, wrote a bit about it earlier this week, with presumably only a quarter of a straight face.
"Chromecast, unlike other gadgets that play online media on TVs, works with laptops, tablets and phones from companies other than Google, so iPhone loyalists, or people with both Android and Apple devices, can use it," she said. "Chromecast, though, could pave the way for Google’s grander TV plans. It is negotiating with TV channels for an Internet cable service, in which people would be able to access cable channels in a Web browser, according to people briefed on the talks. So Chromecast may be the first step in what Google hopes will be a cable alternative."
Ahh, yes. Those silver linings can be so blinding sometimes.
As you can see if you look at the thing (or, for that matter, as I alluded to above when I said it looks like a jump drive), you'll need a USB port on your television in order to use it. And while it's probably safe to assume that the majority of people with TVs now have one with that particular feature, this would also be the time that we now note how not all smartphones come with data plans and not all cake-flavored Blizzards come with actual pieces of cake in the ice cream (thanks, Dairy Queen). The point is this: You're alienating a section of your audience, Google, by assuming nobody still has a big box sitting somewhere in their living rooms. Ignorance is bliss, friends. Ignorance is bliss.
Now, for the true humor. In a sign of abnormally poor planning, the company decided to offer up a free three-month trial of Netflix to anyone who wanted to check out the product. Not a bad idea, right? Entice customers with the ability to finally see what all the "Orange Is The New Black" fuss is about and watch as your otherwise-ignored product flies off shelves. What could possibly go wrong for Big Red, the one company actually finding ways to succeed in the increasingly crowded world of streaming content? Oh, let's look at you, Salvador Rodriguez, of the Los Angeles Times.
"Citing overwhelming demand, Google on Thursday said it has ended a Netflix promotion tied to its new Chromecast TV dongle," he wrote a single day after the launch went down. "'Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available,' Google told The Times in a statement."
The good news? As NBC News reported this morning, somebody went on Twitter to explain that nearly a quarter of a million promo codes were created for the launch. So, 250,000 people, congratulations on your three free months of Netflix! Now, click off that "Everybody Loves Raymond" marathon, and enroll of the School of Robin Wright by spending the weekend cuddled up with "House Of Cards." Drake said it: Thank me later.
What does it all mean? Well, if nothing else, it means that a whole bunch of people will actually be able to see what Google can offer in the Wide World Of Web TV. Google needs that, of course (how do you do, Nexus Q?), especially if it continues to stubbornly refuse to go away. Naturally, the jury will be out on if this tiny surge in attention might just be sustainable, but for now, we shall tip a small portion of a hat to the G-Men -- any press is good press, even if it means you ultimately end up looking foolish for offering up some freebees you are forced to pseudo-recall 24 hours after the fact.
For those wondering, the going price for Chromecast is about 35 bucks, a bargain when compared with the $99 Apple TV or the $80 Roku (which, it also should be noted, offers a similar stick to Chromecast for about a hundred dollars). "Chromecast looks like a smart and disruptive device," research analyst Rotman Epps told the Associated Press this week. "Maybe it took the other failures for Google to get it right."
Fool me once ...