Google Chromecast Sales Outstrip Expectations, Conjure Cabbage Patch Memories

Google announced the launch of its Chromecast over-the-top video product this past Wednesday.  At a mere $35, sales were not just strong, but exceeded all expectations.  By the weekend, Chromecasts had become almost impossible to find.  Retailers sold out within minutes of opening.  Online backorders are expected to take weeks to fulfill.  Initially, purchases came with three free months of a Netflix subscription.  But sales were so robust that this offer ended after only one day, resulting in some confusion for consumers.

Although the rise of online commerce, and the fact that Christmas is still five months away, may keep the Chromecast retail experience from resembling the chaotic, and at times violent, holiday rush for Cabbage Patch dolls back in the 1980’s, consumer reaction seems to be nearly as enthusiastic.  Google appears to have hit upon a very winning combination with Chromecast: simplicity and affordability.  All reports indicate that consumers don’t have to do anything more than attach a power cord, plug the Chromecast dongle into a television’s HDMI port, connect to their Wi-Fi network, and they’re ready to display content from their tablet, smartphone or laptop on their TV.

As Chromecast’s web page aptly puts it: “You won’t have to learn anything new.”  There is no set-top box.  Nor is there a remote; customers navigate using whatever device they are using to access the content.

That’s not to say that the device is perfect.  Chromecast does appear to be intended to mimic, at least to some extent, Apple’s AirPlay feature, which lets consumers show whatever is on their iPad or iPhone on their television.  While more apps are promised soon, Chromecast’s web site only lists content from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and the Chrome browser as compatible at the moment.  One reviewer said that locally-stored content could not be viewed, while another reviewer indicated that this could be accomplished through the supported Chrome browser, but with questionable quality.

Whatever its limits may be, Chromecast doesn’t cost much, and is easy to use.  That is resonating with consumers.

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