Google's new $35 Chromecast television dongle, which went on sale July 25, was launched with a bonus of a 90-day free subscription to Netflix. But almost as quickly as the offer was launched, the bonus was axed by Google due to "overwhelming demand," according to a report.
The promotion for three months of Netflix for new and existing users of the service was ended by Google on the same day that the Chromecast dongle first hit the market, The Los Angeles Times reported on July 25. "Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available," Google said in a statement to The Times, the paper reported.
The original free Netflix offer was highlighted in an eWEEK slideshow about the new Chromecast, but was already over before the slideshow was posted on July 26.
Sales of the Chromecast device were proving popular on major e-commerce sites such as Amazon.com and BestBuy.com as soon as it hit the market. Amazon is showing the device as out of stock as of July 26, with a note that buyers will be notified with shipping information when it is available. Also noted on the site in a special box is that the Netflix promotion is no longer available. "Please note that the Netflix promotional offer (which was available in limited supply) has now ended. Customers who ordered their Chromecast prior to 5:31 PM PST on July 24, 2013 will receive a Netflix gift code via email within 5 days of their product's ship date."
On BestBuy.com, the Chromecast device is still available for shipping, but the free Netflix promotion is still advertised as a bonus. The offer does say "while supplies last," but consumers who are unaware of the end of the promotion may not know it is over until after they order the device.
Chromecast dongles can also be ordered from the Google Play store, but there is a two- to three-week wait, according to the site. An addendum telling buyers that the Netflix offer has ended accompanies the item's description. "Please note that the Netflix promotional offer (which was available in limited supply) has now ended. Orders placed before 1PM PST on 7/25 will receive their promotion code once their order ships."
Google did tell The Times that "users who purchased Chromecast before the promotion ran out will still be able to redeem their Netflix promotion code for three free months of the video streaming service."
The quick demise of the special Netflix freebie, however, is likely to lead to some disappointed consumers who placed online orders for the devices after the free subscriptions were gone.
Even worse, the disappointment from those consumers could even lead to lawsuits against Google, said IT analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.
"If someone buys something with the idea that something would be part of the deal—even though there is with small print—they can sue, alleging fraud," said Enderle. "There will be some upset people and I imagine there will be some lawsuits. Here in California, if you wink funny you're going to get sued."
A Google spokesperson did not respond immediately to an eWEEK request for comment about the Chromecast Netflix offer, including questions about how many free Netflix offers were made available.
Chromecast is a phone- and tablet-controlled dongle that puts new convenience, and Google, into the television-viewing experience. Chromecast plugs into the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) slot on an HDTV, enabling users to direct video content to the TV via a smartphone, tablet or PC, whether it's running an operating system from Google, Apple or Microsoft. Plus, while the phone is busy "casting," it can still be used for other things, like emailing.
Chromecast works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music and, soon, more apps, like Pandora. Content is cast from the cloud to the TV—a user's smartphone or tablet essentially becomes the remote control making this happen.
The Chromecast device is the company's offering in a fast-growing, increasingly complex market in which Amazon and Netflix are now developing original "television" content. Apple currently offers the $99 Apple TV, which enables users to watch content on their television from iOS devices, as well as from iTunes and content sources such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Vimeo. It recently made major updates to Apple TV with content from, among other sources, HBO Go and WatchESPN.