Buoyed by the market response to its Chromecast technology for streaming video from PCs and mobile devices directly to the TV, Google this week released a similar product for streaming audio to speakers.
Google Cast for audio is designed to let users stream music from their phone, tablet or laptop computer to speakers, receivers and soundbars that are enabled to receive the audio stream.
Google Cast features the same technology as Chromecast. It lets users of Android and iOS mobile devices and Mac, Windows and Chromebook PCs stream and control audio directly from their devices, just like Chromecast does with video, Google's product manager for Cast, Tomer Shekel, wrote Jan. 5.
"Google Cast Ready speakers pull content directly from the cloud, so you'll get the best audio quality and can freely multi-task on your phone, tablet, or laptop, all without straining the battery," Shekel said.
Google is working with several other technology vendors to help audio equipment manufacturers make their systems Google Cast Ready. Among those working with Google to integrate Cast into audio equipment are chipmakers Broadcom and MediaTek and systems integrator Libra Wireless.
Several major audio equipment manufacturers, including Sony, LG and Denon, will release Google Cast Ready speakers this spring, with more vendors planning to do so later this year, Shekel said. "These products will join a growing Google Cast ecosystem, which includes more Android TVs, game consoles and set-top boxes."
Several music apps—including Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Deezer, NPROne and TuneIn—are already Cast Ready and will work with the soon-to-be-released speakers and Cast Ready audio equipment from Sony and the others. The only notable exception from the list of companies supporting Cast at launch is Spotify.
Beside Apple's AirPlay, one of Google's biggest rivals in the audio streaming market is Sonos, a Santa Barbara, Calif., company that also offers technology for streaming music from mobile devices and computers to the TV.
With Google Cast, Google is clearly hoping to replicate the success it has enjoyed so far with Chromecast. Google released the $35 media streaming stick in July 2013 as a cheaper alternative to media streaming technologies from Roku, Apple TV, NetGear and others. In the 18 months since then, Chromecast has overtaken Apple TV in streaming media market share and is presently only behind market leader Roku, according to recent data from Parks Associates.
In the first three quarters of 2014, Chromecast accounted for 20 percent of all sales of media streaming technologies in the United States, behind Roku's 29 percent but ahead of Apple's 17 percent. Amazon's Fire TV, released last April, came in fourth with a 10 percent market share. Google claims that consumers in 27 countries currently use Chromecast to stream video to their TVs. Usage per device has grown substantially since launch because of the plethora of applications that support the device, Google has said.
Parks Associates expects more than a quarter of all U.S. broadband households to have a streaming media player by the end of this year. By 2017, the firm expects nearly 50 million streaming devices to be sold globally each year.