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Google Inc (GOOG)’s New Device: Boon for Netflix, Inc. (NFLX), Trouble for Apple Inc. (AAPL)?

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Can somebody remind me why, exactly, I need my Blu-ray player anymore?

After all, over the past few months, save an occasional trip to the Redbox down the road, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually grabbed a physical disc from our dusty collection of Blu-ray and DVDs.

Oh, wait! We still use the Blu-ray player to access my streaming Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) account, rent movies and shows from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime, and listen to Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) as we roam around the house.

Then again, while the extra features and superb audio and video of physical discs are nice, I’d venture to say 99% of what my family watches at home involves streaming content from the web.

Enter Chromecast, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s slick new HDMI-enabled dongle which allows streaming videos, music, photos, and web content wirelessly to your TV from Wi-Fi-enabled devices including Android smartphones and tablets, anything sporting Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Chrome web browser, and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices.

Image source: Google.

For now, however, Chromecast works only with Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), YouTube, Google Play, and Chrome, but Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already indicated there will be more to come as the device “automatically updates to work with a growing number of apps.” True to form, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) also touts Chromecast’s simplicity with a promotional video:

Better yet, Chromecast costs just $35, and those who purchase now also get three free months of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)’s streaming service. If you back out the $7.99 monthly cost of a streaming Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) subscription, new subscribers are technically only paying around $11 bucks for their neat new toy from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).

And considering Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) fell nearly 4% Wednesday after it disappointed analysts by gaining “only” 630,000 new subscribers last quarter, you can bet the King of Streaming certainly doesn’t mind the added publicity from this partnership. In fact, even for existing Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) subscribers, Chromecast’s low cost should also serve to make Netflix’s streaming offerings that much stickier.

For every winner, there also must be…
But while Chromecast could be a boon for Netflix, where does that leave competing hardware offerings from the likes of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)?

Remember, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV offers similar functionality, currently retails for nearly three times as much at $99, and requires consumers also purchase an HDMI cable to plug it into their televisions.

Sure, you say, but Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV also comes with a remote and already works with Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, iTunes, Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P), YouTube, and a number of sports stations. You’d be right on all counts, but that still hasn’t exactly evoked that much of a “gotta have it” emotion for Apple TV with consumers so far.

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