Google’s new Chromecast stick might already be a hit in terms of early sales, but it might not be the first streaming media device the company was planning to offer consumers.
Apparently there was another streaming gadget that Google demoed to a select few during the Consumer Electronics Show back in January, according to a Wall Street Journal report. This device, which was intended to debut during Google’s Google I/O developer’s conference in May, was much closer to a full-fledged set-top box (akin to a Roku). By contrast, the Chromecast is a simple device that expands the experience of media on your mobile devices by slinging that media to your television screen.
The prototype Google device also allowed people to use Google’s Hangouts video chat service and contained motion gesture technology, which would put it in the same class as Xbox’s Kinect. It also had support for mobile games, according to the WSJ report.
I’ve read some reports that suggest Google may still end up releasing such a device in the future, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Google execs have indicated that all of Chromecast’s functionality would be included in hardware running the company’s Google TV technology via a software update. And producing a full-fledged set-top box would likely anger Google’s Google TV hardware partners (Marvell, Sony, Vizio, etc.)