If you were already preparing to dive into a subscription streaming-music service, a birthday gift from Google Play and Chromecast may make it feel like you're getting Google's popular video stick for nearly nothing.
An already dirt-cheap wireless video dongle that streams video and music to your TV using Android or iOS devices as remotes, Chromecast launched a year ago Thursday to fervent popular appeal. The device itself was, and it sat atop Amazon's electronics best-seller list for months, where it remains today.
Thursday, Google is offering a promotion that essentially cuts the price of the device to $5 -- provided you were already planning to pay for a subscription streaming music service anyway. Purchase a $35 Chromecast before the end of September, and buyers will be comped three months of Google Play Music All Access, the search giant's version of Spotify and Beats Music. At $9.99 a month, three months of All Access is valued at about $30 and gives subscribers unlimited access to 25 million songs without ads.
A different promotion at Chromecast's launch a year ago included three months of Netflix's streaming video service -- and essentially cut the price of the device to about $11 --.
The streaming-music category is still relatively unfamiliar to mainstream consumers but is growing rapidly -- and quickly becoming more competitive. Sweden-based Spotify as well as a host of smaller startups vie with offerings by tech giants like Beats Music -- soon to be part of Apple -- and Amazon's Prime Music.
For the anniversary, Google said Chromecast has performed more than 400 million "casts," its term for a user flinging the content on their phone, tablet or laptop to their television via the device. Millions of Chromecasts have been sold, with it now in 20 countries and 30,000 stores.