Chromecast turns one: why this small streaming stick became such a big deal

Gigaom

One year ago today, Google(S GOOG) surprised the world by announcing Chromecast, a small dongle that makes it possible to stream YouTube, Netflix(S NFLX) and other online media services to the TV. At the time, Chromecast was radically different from any of the other streaming devices out there — and since then, it has begun to change how we think about smart TVs, and the intersection of mobile devices and living room entertainment.

So cheap, and so different

When Google unveiled Chromecast, two things stood out right away. The first was the price; at $35, Chromecast was cheaper than any of its major competitors, with Roku’s cheapest model starting at $50, and Apple(S AAPL) TV selling for $100.

But the even bigger surprise was that Chromecast proposed a whole new interaction model: Media playback is initiated from a mobile device or PC, and content is being played straight from the…

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