Google appears to have quietly released a $15 Ethernet adapter for Chromecast users with spotty WiFi connectivity.
It’s unclear when the company released the device, but media reports about its availability appear to have resulted in the product being sold out on Google Store.
Android Police first reported on the new device Wednesday along with a photo of the product. Google itself has said nothing publicly about the Ethernet adapter. The company did not respond immediately to a request seeking more information on the product and when it will be available next.
Google’s Chromecast allows users to stream audio and video content from their laptop, smartphone and other mobile device directly to a TV via WiFi. Earlier this year, the company announced that Chromecast would soon allow users to play Android and iOS games on their big screen TVs without the need for them to mirror content from their game consoles or mobile devices first.
The company claims to have sold millions of the $35 to $40 devices to users around the world since it was launched in July 2013. Chromecast is currently only second to Roku in the streaming media market with some 20 percent market share compared with Roku’s 29 percent share, according to market figures from Parks Associates. The analyst firm’s report shows that Google’s growth has come at the expense of Apple TV in particular, which dropped to third place with a 17 percent share in 2014.
Other vendors in the same space include Amazon with its Fire TV and Sony.
Google’s new Ethernet adapter is apparently designed to enable better streaming quality for those with iffy WiFi connections. Forbes described it as a device with a power supply, a 10/100 Ethernet port and a USB cable. The adapter will let users plug Chromecast into the Ethernet port and stream media like they would via WiFi.
For the moment at least, the adapter seems to be available only in the United States, Forbes added.
The rapid manner in which the device appears to have sold out on Google Store suggests a strong demand for the technology. Of course, with no information available yet on how many adapters Google might have made available in the first place, it is hard to know if that is indeed the case.
Google’s effort to make Chromecast more versatile comes amid signs of surging demand for streaming media technology.
According to Parks Associates, nearly 50 percent of video content that U.S. consumers watch is nonlinear in nature, meaning it is being streamed in some fashion. That’s up from 38 percent in 2010. The trend is especially pronounced among the 18- to 44-year-old demographic, where a majority of the video content they consume is streamed.
“The market is changing rapidly to account for these new digital media habits,” the firm has noted previously. With the exception of Apple, all other major players in the media streaming space including Roku, Amazon and Google offer a streaming stick, the firm had noted.