Tablets and cell phones keep tech tongues wagging as writers wrangle reviews discussing the hip flavor of the week (this week—Moto X). But once in a great while a new category or re-imagining of an existing category emerges. Such was last week’s announcement of the Google Chromecast.
This $35 HDMI TV plug-in brings web and streaming content to your TV via a tiny package that looks like a thumb drive. There are several TV “boxes” in the marketplace such as Roku, Boxee and Apple TV, but Chromecast delivers big results in a little package, for a low price.
“By coming out early at an extremely affordable price, Google may wind up dominating the TV delivery industry,” consumer tech analyst Larry Magid wrote for Forbes. “It’s hard to imagine that Hulu, Major League Baseball, HBO Go and every other content provider isn’t beating a path to their door. I imagine that the TV networks, too, are anxious to get their content on the device.”
The Google device currently supports YouTube, Netflix, Google Play, Google Music, Pandora and the Chrome browser. Hulu has now confirmed (8/1) it is working to join the Chromecast platform. Unlike Apple’s AirPlay system which works only on Apple devices, Chromecast works with both Android and IOS devices. Streaming music will also be a Chromecast beneficiary as the list of services grows.
“…Chromecast is pure simplicity,” says Janko Roettgers for GigaOM. “Search and discovery of video content is happening on the mobile device or laptop, and all Chromecast does is stream media from the cloud.”
To win over all reviewers, the Chromecast still needs to add additional channels to its list of supported apps. However, that appears to be high on its ToDo list. But considering its ease of use, consumer friendly pricing and travel friendly size, it’s no surprise the device is currently sold out on Google Play with a “3-4 week” wait.
Wired’s Mat Honan sums it nicely, “Did Google just win the living room? No. But it definitely just cozied up on a lot of couches and got comfortable.”
And now to the numbers…
With high profile country album releases still in short supply, it’s no surprise the format’s Y/Y sales deficit deepened again this week, falling from -2.3 to -2.6%. Tracks also lost ground.
On a brighter note, Current Country Album chart favorites Florida Georgia Line (No. 1; 30k), Hunter Hayes (No. 3; 13k), Little Big Town (No. 16; 5k), Zac Brown Band (No. 25; 3k) and Brantley Gilbert (No. 27; 3k) each lack less than 100k to reach Platinum status. However, for some, breaching the one million unit line may still be months away.
It’s too early to get a strong idea of what labels are planing to release during Q4 this year, but not too soon to recap what was significant last year. A quick glance shows about 5.815 million units spread over 8 albums or 13% of 2012’s total country album sales which reached 44.694 million. The following list is a yardstick against which to measure the new release schedule as it comes into view…
Q4 2012 Releases with Year-End Sales
Music Nashville sndtrk/120,351
Lady Antebellum holiday/439,438
Blake Shelton holiday/427,794
Scotty McCreery holiday/348,472
With the success of last year’s three holiday offerings it is likely others will try to fill the slot this year, plus last year’s three “wise” acts might re-release, as well. And obviously, the Taylor Swift’s 3 million units will be hard to duplicate.