Everyone is gaga over Chromecast, the new device from Google that connects your mobile device to your TV. I agree that it's cool but I think today's excitement is overlooking tomorrow's possibilities.
Yes, Chromecast lets you wirelessly stream video from your phone or tablet onto your TV. By doing so, it also turns your mobile device into your TV's remote control. The most interesting aspect of Chromecast though, IMHO, is the fact that it opens the door for more interctive, engaging activities on the bigger screen.
Today we generally sit back and watch as our TV entertains us through network broadcasts, movies, DVR playbacks and services like Netflix. But it's definitely a lean-back model. Our smaller devices are where more of the lean-forward activities take place, such as browsing the web, reading articles and creating content. There's been talk for years now about a hybrid model on the big screen, where both lean-forward and lean-back activities will take place but we haven't seen that materialize yet.
Take a look at this side-by-side feature comparison of Google's Chromecast to Apple's Airplay. What's the most important line on that comparison table? Some would argue the battle is won by whoever supports the most third-party apps (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, etc.) If that's true, Apple has the advantage.
I think that's short-term thinking. To me, the long-term winner is determined by the "third-party API" element. As you can see, both of these services support third-party APIs. The difference is that Apple's is all about their closed ecosystem, so forget about using Android devices, for example. Google's, on the other hand, supports all popular platforms, including Apple devices. Apple still has a phenomenal platform and they sell a lot of devices. But at $35 Google Chromecast is pretty much irresistible.
So what happens when developers see huge sales of Chromecast devices? They become more interested in writing apps for the platform. In fact, they start coming up with apps that leverage the platform in ways Google probably never imagined, and that's where the real game-changing ideas are hatched.
Here are the critical questions you need to ask: How can your content be enhanced on the big screen? What features, services and elements could be added to your products that don't make sense on the smaller screen?
Chromecast is red hot and currently on backorder. I'm not convinced it, or Google's platform, is predestined to be the ultimate winner. Someone could easily come along with an even better mousetrap.
What Chromecast is teaching us though, is that we need to put aside all our biases and open our minds to imagining (and inventing!) all the new ways content will be consumed in the future.