Google’s foray into the streaming media market required a partner with global design, engineering, manufacturing and marketing know-how, plus proven expertise inventing intelligent consumer products.
Google wanted to bring streaming online media to an unprecedented mass market, so it turned to Flex to create a disruptive device for living rooms everywhere. Together, Google and Flex brought the Chromecast to life, conquering design challenges along the way and launching the product quickly in an extremely competitive environment.
Google partnered with Flex to:
Take Chromecast from idea to concept to worldwide production
Design a prototype of the Chromecast in four weeks
Solve design and engineering challenges such as size, price, wireless capabilities and temperature with Sketch-to-Scale™ solutions
Speed time to market, beating competitors on both market entry and price
Chromecast was a pioneer in the space and became one of the most popular media streaming devices globally.
Designing a printed circuit board to overcome technological challenges
Google didn’t have a product design ready to hand to a manufacturer. Instead, Google engaged with Flex, sharing only rudimentary concepts of its product, seeking a partner to design, engineer and manufacture the device at scale. The then-secret gadget would allow users to instantly “cast” content from mobile devices or laptops to television screens, the way similar products did at the time. But unlike other products, Google needed it to be small (2.83 inches when it hit the market), sleek and at an ultra-competitive price point.
Flex engineers designed an octagonal-shaped, printed, circuit board — an unprecedented form factor — and solved other significant technological challenges, too. The design of the circuit board took advantage of the gaps between circuits to disperse heat so it wouldn’t burn the circuitry. Flex subsidiary Multek developed an antenna with a ribbon nestled between the layers of the circuit board that could sniff out a signal from behind a flat-screen. Together, Google and Flex designed a working prototype in just four weeks.
Google’s Chromecast is a media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on a TV and allows consumers to cast TV shows, movies, music, sports and games from their mobile device to their TV.
Keeping costs low and being first to market
The resulting size and curves differentiate Chromecast from its competitors—and so does the price. Google began selling its Chromecast streaming sticks for $35 in July 2013, offering a more accessible alternative to competitors’ $100+ dollar products. Flex manufactured 7 million of the devices during the first four months of production.
“I think it was a collaborative approach that yielded a product that performed extremely well at a really low price point. We and Google together established the market for this product.”
-- Sumir Kapur
SVP Innovative, Connected and Emerging, Flex
Solving the problems of innovation through collaboration
In an age of disruption, where time to market makes the difference between pioneers and laggards, innovation must happen on multiple fronts. The collaboration between Google and Flex brought the Chromecast design to life and got the device into consumers’ hands at a staggering pace. Flex’s deep cross-industry expertise engenders an institutional cross-pollination that allows customers like Google to get to market fast and maintain its leadership position.
Learn more about how companies partner with Flex to create and deliver products for a smarter, more connected world.