Making a new move into Internet television, Google Inc. will start selling a $35 gadget that will plug into a high-definition TV and stream video from Netflix, YouTube and other sources.
The 2-inch device, dubbed Chromecast, is aimed at replacing set-top boxes and can be controlled by both Android and Apple smartphones or computers. Google said it will also stream music or even show Web pages from computers using the Google Chrome Web browser.
Analysts said the device could be a disruptive move by Google to compete with Apple and other tech companies that want to bring Internet services to the television set. Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps tweeted that it represents a "smaller, more elegant approach" compared with Google's previously halting efforts at similar products.
The new Chromecast gadget looks something like a USB memory stick but packs far more capabilities. When plugged into a TV set, Google said the gadget will connect both to a home wireless router and to other devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptop computers. Anyone in range can then use their smartphone or computer as the "remote control" - to select a video from YouTube or Netflix, for example.
The Chromecast takes its cue from the selected device but then streams the video or other material directly from the Internet, through the home router, so the smartphone's battery doesn't drain, Google representatives said.
Google executive Sundar Pichai told reporters the gadget was inspired by the observation that, "It's very, very nice to show videos to your friends, but it's really difficult to do" on the small screen of a smartphone.
The device won't work with videos from Amazon or Hulu unless the material is being streamed from a laptop using the Chrome browser. Pichai said Google is talking with a variety of companies about creating apps that would work with Chromecast. "I fully expect a lot more partners to join us," he said.