Google has decided to permanently lower the price of the basic 1080p Chromecast from $35.00 to $29.99. A note about the price change on the Chromecast’s Google Store page lets us know the new price isn’t just a temporary sale and Amazon has lowered their listing to match. This price change, while not too significant on its own, is interesting in the context of what it could mean for Google’s rumored upcoming hybrid Chromecast-Android TV device and the Chromecast line as a whole.
Putting the 4K Chromecast Ultra aside, the base 1080p Chromecast hasn’t really changed much since its original release in 2013. The 2nd-gen model, released in 2015, changed the form factor from a stick to a pendant and added support for 802.11ac WiFi. The current 3rd-gen Chromecast, which is now dropping in price, was released in late 2018. It, too, didn’t add much to the model it was replacing, with the only new feature being its 1080p playback capabilities increasing from 30fps to 60fps.
Despite the device being mostly unchanged for 7 years, it doesn’t seem like the base 1080p Chromecast is going to be updated anytime soon. A permanent price reduction is usually an indication that the manufacturer, Google, in this case, wants to stretch the existing model’s lifespan but keep it competitive. If Google was lowering the price to try to clear out existing stock for a new model, we’d expect them to just put it on sale instead of permanently changing its price.
Permanently changing the retail price is what Amazon did in 2016 when they permanently lowered the 2nd-gen Fire TV’s price from $99.99 to $89.99, a full year before the 3rd-gen Fire TV debuted. This is also what Roku did in 2018 when they permanently lowered the Roku Streaming Stick Plus from $69.99 to $59.99 and again what they did in 2019 when they permanently dropped it even further to $49.99 because they have yet to release a new version. This Chromecast price drop very likely means we won’t be seeing a new 1080p Chromecast for at least a year, if ever.
The fact that the Chromecast Ultra is still listed at a retail price of $69 and hasn’t received a similar permanent price decrease is telling that it will soon be discontinued/replaced. There are numerous rumors and leaks of an upcoming Chromecast-Android TV hybrid device from Google, but if you were wondering if the existing Chromecast Ultra would live on at a lower price, adjacent to the new Android TV-based model, it not getting a price drop is probably the last nail in the coffin for the Ultra. Considering the Fire TV Stick 4K gives you monumentally more features for $20 less than the Chromecast Ultra and that the Ultra is 2 years older than the base Chromecast, it is by far the one that most needs a price reduction.
With this Chromecast price drop, Google’s 2020-2021 streaming device lineup will very likely be the existing 3rd-gen Chromecast at $29.99 and a new 4K Android TV-based Chromecast to replace the existing Chromecast Ultra. We’ll have to wait and see what the new model will be called, how much it will cost, and whether it’ll be any good. Care to take a guess in the comments?