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Music services pile into Chromecast, as Amazon launches a competing device

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This week, Rhapsody and its subsidiary Napster, and Rdio, have implemented Chromecast support in some of their apps. (The Rhapsody/Napster additions are Android-only.) Beats Music and Pandora have already climbed onto the Chromecast train.

Why is there a Chromecast train at all for music services, when Google’s little device is made for throwing video onto televisions?

First, because it’s an easy implementation for the music company, it doesn’t hurt, and fits into a “distribute everywhere” strategy. (No surprise that Pandora was one of the first on board.) Second, because the TV’s sound system is sometimes that best hi-fi reproduction setup in the home. In that context, a television set with Chromecast lives in the same consumer electronics category as a WiFi speaker system like Sonos.

Now we can look forward to a series of similar announcements of music services leaping aboard Amazon‘s brand new Fire TV device, launched yesterday. Like Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV plugs into an HDMI port and streams media. As such, it competes not only with Google’s device, but Roku and Apple TV.

Three music services are already stacked up in the Amazon launch of Fire TV: Pandora, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio — each an aggressive multi-platform distributor.

For the user, Amazon’s entry into this consumer electronics category provides another interesting living room option for streaming media. At the same time, it further balkanizes an already fragmented, multi-ecosystem universe — in a word, confusion. Confusion about which content (music, movies, TV shows, games) exists on which devices. Amazon has withheld its popular Prime movie/TV service from Chromecast, forcing Prime subscribers to consider Amazon’s hardware instead. It is that competitive warfare, baffling and sometimes infuriating to consumers, which forces music services to constantly implement on every available platform.

Brad Hill

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