Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

All of These Google Chromecast Ads Are Awesome

Google Chromecast Netflix Arrested DevelopmentLots of smart people I know are very, very excited about Chromecast, Google’s new TV-streaming gadget.

I think it’s pretty cool, too. But only as an iterative step: Maybe I’m not smart enough to figure out The Big Picture, but to me this seems like a cheaper version of Apple TV and Roku’s boxes, both of which do very similar things.

But Apple TV and Roku were pretty cheap to begin with, and now Chromecast is just about free. Google is selling it for $35, but it’s giving you three free months of Netflix (even if you’re already a Netflix subscriber), which brings the net cost down to $11. If you smoke cigarettes and you live in New York City, you will pay more for a pack of Marlboro Lights.* [UPDATE: That was fast: A day after announcing the Netflix deal, Google has pulled the plug. So now it’s back to $35 — or the price of four movie tickets (not in New York, though).]

So if Chromecast’s main contribution is that it makes this kind of Web-to-TV box something that literally everyone can afford, then that’s still pretty important, because it makes Web-to-TV that much more commonplace. As long as it works.**

And if Chromecast is going to become the device that lots of people buy, it will be in part because of Google’s super-smart ad campaign, which does a brilliant job of quickly explaining the Web-to-TV concept, and making it look like something normal people would love to do.

I’ve already raved about the main Chromecast ad, but Google has a whole set of these up and running, and they’re all awesome examples of great story telling. In 15 seconds, no less.

* Don’t smoke cigarettes!

** It’s worth noting that Roku also has its own “streaming stick,” which looks just like Chromecast (minus some features). But it doesn’t push that device — instead it is focused on the Roku 3, which has a bigger footprint. I wonder why that is. (Ah! Thanks to Zach Seward and Steve Kovach for the quick answer: Roku’s stick won’t work with most TVs.)

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— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo