Sadly, ChromeCast may remain a closed device

Recently some questions were raised at the open-ness of ChromeCast device when the co-founder of CyanogenMod Koushik Dutta expressed his suspicion that Google may want to control which content is being streamed through ChromeCast.

We got this statement from Google:

We’re excited to bring more content to Chromecast and would like to support all types of apps, including those for local content. It’s still early days for the Google Cast SDK, which we just released in developer preview for early development and testing only. We expect that the SDK will continue to change before we launch out of developer preview, and want to provide a great experience for users and developers before making the SDK and additional apps more broadly available.

I believed that Google won’t want to ‘ban’, block or try to control how and what content is streamed via the $35 device. Things look a bit murky.

Dutta was invited to a lunch with Google engineers and there he learned that while engineers ‘would like’ to support as much content as possible, things may be farther than they appear in the mirror.

It appears that ChromeCast is going to be a tightly controlled device as is Google TV. Dutta says that when he asked about why there is a whitelist for ChromeCast SDK – something that doesn’t exist for Android or ChromeBook?

The engineers repeated the same statement that we got from Google that there is a whitelist for ChromeCast so that “they can provide a positive user experience as the SDK changes and matures.”

Dutta raised his suspicion “that this behavior is more consistent with the Google TV program, which has been invite-only to date.”

Google engineers told him that they “wanted to remove the whitelist, and have a “lightweight approval process” for Chromecast apps.”

Which Dutta says sounds awful lot like a whitelist.

Google engineers did not do any concrete timeline on when things may ‘improve’. Dutta said, “No real timeline given on when anything would change, besides a “few months”.

‘Few months is an eternity in Google land. Those Linux users still waiting for the Google Drive may know what it means.

We have already seen negative response from users about the closed ChromeCast device, I wonder why Google is doing it. We ran a poll and more than 90% respondents said that they won’t buy a closed hardware.

Personally I am a huge fan of Google hardware due to their mantra ‘if you buy a device, you own it and you can do whatever you want to do with it.’ I ordered the ChromeCast the day it was announced, but now I wonder if I will be able to do what I want to with the device I bought.

Based on the interaction between Google engineers and Dutta can we conclude that ChromeCast is going to be a closed device?

Dutta said, “Of course, as engineers, we would like to have as many people using our stuff as possible. And I would like a pony for my birthday tomorrow. But engineers do not drive business decisions. And I completely understand why Chromecast would not be an open platform, and that Google needs to posture in such a way to grant themselves the maximum flexibility in the future.”

What do you think, share your thought in the comments below.

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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