The first generation Chromecast player was released on July 24, 2013, followed by the second generation in 2015 and the Chromecast Ultra with 4K in 2016. Now it is starting to look like Google may be about to discontinue or stop future development of the standalone Chromecast player.
This week Google held their Google I/O conference and for the first time in many years the Chromecast player was not mentioned during the keynote and had no scheduled event. Google did announce a new dongle that looks just like a Chromecast second gen but it has a full version of Android TV built in with 4K HDR. For now it’s only available to developers; however, a slightly different version meant for retail was recently approved by the FCC for public sale.
It is likely that Google plans to release the developer device to the public this fall. The last time Google released a developer-only device like this it was soon re-released as the Nexus player.
So why do we think the standalone Chromecast player is at a dead end?
What could Google do next for Chromecast players? They already have a 4K HDR version, so it’s unlikely Google will be releasing updated hardware because the second generation and the Chromecast Ultra are more than powerful enough. Without a remote or a user interface on the TV the physical hardware of the Chromecast player is likely at a dead end. Maybe if 8K takes off Google could release an updated 8K Chromecast, but we think that is unlikely.
Chromecast has also been built into everything from smart TVs to speakers. Google has also included Chromecast in Android TV and with a new cheap Android TV dongle that looks just like the Chromecast on the way it makes it unlikely Google has plans to expand the Chromecast hardware line as a standalone device.
Why would Google dead end the Chromecast player?
The answer is simple. It costs money and staff to build a new Chromecast player. With the current Chromecast players being more than powerful enough, there is no reason to dedicate resources that could be used on Android TV.
This will also allow Google to simplify their set-top box market from two competing lines of players to one.
Update: A few readers pointed out a FCC filing that shows Bluetooth being added to the Chromecast 2. Now just because we think a device is at a dead end does not mean we think its dead right now. The Chromecast likely has some life to it but as things stand now the Android TV dongle makes far more sense for Google to continue to develop. For now, we will have to wait and see what Google does next.
Since the FCC filing points to this as an updated Chromecast with a new model number its very possible this is a slightly refreshed cheaper version to supplement a new Android TV dongle.
So what is next for Chromecast?
Chromecast as a software and an app are not dead. Google has been slowly building relationships with Vizio, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Philips, Polaroid, Skyworth, and other TV manufacturers. Now with Android TV on a dongle it is likely that is the future of Chromecast.
Not only do you still get all the features of a Chromecast and the ability to use your phone as a remote with an Android TV dongle but you also get many additional features.
While this is all speculation for now it looks likely that the future of the Chromecast as a physical standalone player is at a dead end. Yet the app and the software will continue built into other devices like smart TVs.
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