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Chart of the day: Google's Chromecast vs. Apple's AirPlay

July 26, 2013: 6:50 AM ET

Is Google's $35 dongle a match for Apple's $99 set top box? The Verge's tale of the tape.

Chromecast

396528445767FORTUNE -- Google (GOOG) took another crack at television this week, having failed to get much traction with the Google TV solution it introduced three years ago.

The new entrant is a $35 dongle called Chromecast that plugs into the HDMI port of a high-definition TV and receives audio and video content streamed over Wi-Fi -- thus offering many of the features Apple (AAPL) users have enjoyed through AirPlay and Apple TV.

How do the two systems stack up?

The Verge's Chris Welch, who produced the tale of the tape above, offers this summary:

"AirPlay is built into every iPhone and iPad, and works with most newer Macs as well. Using it for audio and video requires that you purchase a $99 Apple TV, or you can just wirelessly stream music to a number of "Made for AirPlay" speakers and sound systems, which range in price. After several years on the market, AirPlay is well-established and understood: consumers know how to use it, and developers have been pushing the boundaries with games that take advantage of multiple screens.

"Google is pricing the Chromecast aggressively at a mere $35. (Google says Google Cast, Chromecast's underlying technology, will also eventually be built-in to TVs as well — we'd assume Samsung is involved.) Once you've got the stick, you can send video to it from almost anywhere Chrome runs: an Android device, a Windows or Mac PC, even iOS devices. That's definitely more flexible than the AirPlay experience, but could offer compatibility headaches as well."

See: Chromecast vs. AirPlay: how do they compare?

UPDATE: Barely 24 hours after Google offered Chromecast buyers a free three-month Netflix subscription, the sweetener was withdrawn. See Google ends Chromecast-Netflix promotion 'due to overwhelming demand'.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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