Exercise 82 – How would you improve Google Chromecast?

Post and review answers and feedback to answers in the comments section of this post.

See also:

How to answer a product improvement question in a product manager job interview

List of product improvement questions for product manager job interviews

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Anonymous
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Me (M): First, I will find out out what the interviewer means by improve.
Interviewer (I): Assume the interviewer say user experience.
M: Should I be aware of any goals for this product/improvement
I: We want to dominate the market
M: So market share is the goal. Should I also look into pricing? Would that be an improvement aspect to consider?
I: Market share is the goal. Don’t worry about pricing for this exercise.
M: Since I’m not familiar with Chromcast, I would then go and talk about my understanding of Chromecast – A hardware device that attaches to your TV which allows an app on the phone/tablet to cast the screen of the device (video/audio) using the chrome browser app to the TV screen.
I: Yes, that is the basic functionality.
M: Is there anything else I should know about Chromecast for this exercise?
I: No, lets go with that for now.

M: I would segment the customers into two: Casual and Business.
Casual customers use Chromecast for use at home to watch movies with family
Business customers use Chromecast for projecting business presentations at conferences as well as their customer premises. Do you want me to choose one particular segment?
I: Either is fine. But would your proposals vary?
M: I would think so as the goals for business are different. There may be more security implications for the business case (B) than the casual customer (C). I will list out the pain points but classify them as for business case if it is unique to them.

Pain Points for customers:
1. User experience – easier discovery of devices. Pairing of devices. Connecting to Internet (B/C)
2. Streaming of 4K video (B/C)
3. Powerpoint and Keynote support (B)
4. Authentication support. Check what children are watching (C)
5. No available HDMI ports (C)
6. Recording streams. (C)
7. Control from Google Home (C)
8. Support purchases (C)

Classifying priority in four dimensions (Business, Customer, Technology, Risk ) (L, M, H). I have not factored in cost here for two reasons. Implementation cost for companies like Google is not a great factor as long as there are enough justifications in the other dimensions.
Solutions:
1. Setup via the phone. Use the phones WiFi and other settings to automatically send information to Chromecast. Automatic UI adjustment on serving device based on the type of casting that is being done. (H, H, M, H)
2. Better codecs and compression algorithm support, with potentially limited WiFi bandwidth that is being shared by other devices. (M, M, H, H). Risk is choppy video and having to downscale stream meaning annoyance to the customer.
3. Plugins to Powerpoint and Keynote and cast directly from pptx and keynote. (H, H, H, H) – This is risky as it potentially needs compatibility tests with other sw. Need to keep up with changes in other software
4. Allow parents to place restrictions on what is cast. Make sure that the Chromecast app on the serving device can dynamically authenticate the user requesting the cast. (L, H, M, L)
5. Software based cast. Most TVs are internet enabled. Android TVs are also available. So Chromecast software that serves the purpose of the hardware and use the TV’s resources may be a possibility. (L, H, H, H). This has potentially a lot of implications. First it may cannibalize the hardware chromecast business. But there may be technical challenges too as this needs establishing sw teams to work with TVs running other OS.
6. Automatically record on attached DVR. (L, L, H, H)
7. Ability to connect from Google home without a smartphone tablet. For example the user can say ” play youtube video Beat It, by Michael Jackson”. Automatically the TV turns on and plays the video. (H, M, M, M)
8. While casting, ability to buy interesting things shown in the video. (M, M, H, H)

Now, the original goal given by I is that Google want’s to improve market share. Therefore my highest priorities would be those expressed by Customers as H.

Therefore I would implement 1, 4,5 for Casual customers and 3 for business customers.

I would track the metrics such as improvements in Net Promoter Score as well as sales to followup on these improvements.

Bijan
Guest

Great answer. Well organized. Lots of meaningful pain points. and great solutions for each of them.

Anonymous
Guest

Thanks Bijan!

Josh
Guest

Interesting, but before I get started, let make sure I understand the question. There are several different types of Chromecasts, but I’m assuming that this question only refers to the video Chromecasts (2.0 and Ultra), not the audio Chromecast.

OK, so Chromecast is basically a device that allows someone with a smartphone to mirror their screen to a TV. It’s almost like a low-cost bring-your-own-device competitor to Apple TV and directly competes against Roku. This is a consumer-oriented product which is especially integrated with other google streaming products like Youtube and Music, but also Netflix and other video apps.

Choose a metric:

Being both a hardware device and a software driven streaming technology, to determine how to improve it, I want to look for the largest area of opportunity. Given it’s low cost, I don’t see hardware driven sales increases being a significant source of new revenue. On the software side, I can look at how to improve it’s use. When used with google streaming services, it can drive revenue through serving ads. So that is how there is a relationship between engagement and revenue. If I were to improve it by finding a new market for it, however, we could see new sales and shortly after, an increase in engagement.

Let’s consider new markets for Chromecast:
Education
Small Business
Big Business

To enter a new market, I would focus on the one that is the least served relative to it’s need to display content on large screens. In my opinion that would be education. To measure the success of adoption in education, I would look to improve sales revenue at first and then engagement.

User Groups:

In education there are two primary users to consider:
Teachers – Want to display content for lessons
Students – Need to see content

Use cases:

For hundreds of years teachers have adopted the paradigm of having a large surface to display content for students to view. In essence, teachers need to:
Display images, videos, and presentations
Write and draw content
Erase, annotate and modify displayed content
Ensure students see the content
View students’ lessons

Students need to:
See what’s on the screen
Ask questions
Take notes

Teachers needs are unfulfilled by today’s classrooms because:
They cannot have students do the equivalent of “coming up to the board” with a projected computer screen.
They cannot use their mobile devices and move around the classroom while running a presentation
They cannot replay the lesson for absent students

Students need are unfulfilled because:
They may not be able to see the screen
They can’t take notes by looking back and forth between the screen and their notepad
The teacher might go too fast and they miss something

Some ideas for Chromecast functionality to enter this market:
A. Cast to the student devices in the classroom – ability to cast to many screens at once, especially useful when there is no large screen present.
B. Upload stream to be viewed by absent students – ability to record the stream and also capture teacher audio via mobile device.
C. Google chalkboard app with Chromecast streaming – ability for casting live drawing and writing from a mobile device. Possibly let’s multiple people draw on the chalkboard at the same time.
D. Split-screen casting – allows student to cast to master screen but keeps original content on screen as well
E. Question / Comment casting – ability for students to cast up a question/comment to the main cast

Evaluate Solutions:

To augment the core Chromecast functionality, I want to focus on the solution with the largest impact to an unfulfilled need.

Solution A. Comes with many risks, such as students only pretending to follow cast while using their mobile device. Basically having kids use mobile devices in the classroom will not be desirable by teachers. Also, strong alternatives exist with screen sharing competition. Likely discard.

Solution B. Useful when absent, but limited in usefulness beyond that. Delighter.

Solution C. Core need. Whiteboards are the largest competition here and will be tough to beat. Opportunity exists in bringing smart whiteboards to the masses.

Solution D. Delighter. This is modeled from classic classroom interactions and could add value by enriching classroom participation in the digital age.

Solution E. Delighter. Alternative of raising hand and asking question is age old practice that will need a more compelling reason to change. Could also be problematic when questions in queue are asked and answered.

Summary:

To make a compelling entry into the classroom, the best solution to pursue is the chalkboard app with chrome cast streaming. This would enrich the classroom by better organizing important teacher content which is today ephemeral. It also aligns nicely with Google’s mission to organize the world’s information. With the other existing abilities of the Chromecast and its low cost, it would be a compelling product. Also, it would pair well with the Google Classroom suite of products. There are about 150,000 schools in the US (public, private and university), so I would measure success by penetrating at least 10% of schools over one year. For those 15,000 schools, I could further segment to determine how many classrooms. With one chrome cast per classroom, I could then estimate the total number of Chromecast sales in one year. I’d divide that by 12 for a KPI to be evaluated at one month post-launch.

Steve
Guest

Great question. I’ll answer by clarifying the goal, diving into user needs, current pains, ID some solutions, and provide an implementation plan.

To clarify, when we say improve I’m going to assume that you’re interested in user engagement primarily. Ultimately, this would tie to revenue and lifetime value, but I’m going to place revenue models outside of scope and focus on methods of driving user engagement. Is this an alright assumption to make?

Touching off on chromecast for a second. Chromecast is a low-cost hardware device enabling streaming services from phone to TV. Basically, segmenting users, I see two situations for streaming content between devices: Home and Business. Home users are currently defined in a one-sided excahange as media consumers, whereas business users are keen on productivity tools and extracting the versatility of Gsuite. I’m going to focus on the user needs and solutions for home users.

Pain points for at-home users is latent consumption of media from services such as YouTube and Google Music. The paradigm shift of growth of chromecast as a tool will lie in not just enabling, but encouraging interaction with the content. Overlaying a method for interacting with online content such as showgoers with netflix for chatting with a partner at distance while watching privately or live engagement with others publically while watching at time-adjusted steps. Also provides a mechanism for audience to participate in media. Similarly, Google could improve in event promotion. All of a sudden there is a live event, why can’t I know in advance of a cool SpaceX launch or UFC fight? Why can’t I participate in the process and lead-up? Where is my FOMO.

To improve engagement along the lines of converting latent consumption to active, I would want to see Google
1). Provide recommendations for me through the week in terms of what’s coming up and on for the week. Curated content.
2). Faciliate the need to interact with content at all locations by overlaying smart communication tools private and public.
3). Allow audience participation in event based promotions that support broadcast to large screens where immersion is seen as key.

For implementation, the biggest item people are willing to pay for is engagement around live events – why people still pay $100 for pay per view and subscriptions for sports. Providing a platform for people to participate in promotion through the software platform in advance and leveraging chromecast as a way of live engagement during is where there will be the biggest chance of increased user engagement. Rolling that platform out to pre-recorded streamed content after becomes an application project where the project development is more of a linear problem making it a scalable project.

This is my first post. A few more to come before my interview in a few weeks. Open to criticism

Steve
Guest

Had a look at some of the other answers. I focused more on platform as opposed to product in terms of answering. I’m curious about thoughts on that. I didn’t look at the problem in terms of a user going through a journey of getting ready to buy a physical media player, comparing chromecast and firetv in terms of features, I was thinking about the core advantage of the Google platform that overlays. Did I mis-step?

Bijan
Guest

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the answer. I think you can say to the interviewer that you see two paths (improve platform vs. improve product) and explain why you’d like to focus on one (ask if they are ok with the approach). This way, you show that you have a thinking process behind setting priorities for improving a product / platform.

I would personally focus on the product since it gives you more room to play sometimes. You can easily list out the pain points associated with a product by thinking about the user journey. and then use the pain points to list your solutions.

hope it helps. Looking forward to seeing more answers from you:)

Samir
Guest

In order to improve chrome cast, first we need to understand and critique its design so that we can focus on the drawbacks and improve on them.
Whenever I critique a product, I generally use 2-3 design dimensions and weigh the product against those. Lets consider following parameters – Ease of Use, Usefulness.

    Ease of Use – Chromecast if very easy to use. We can say it’s literally plug and play. We need to configure the WIFI details into it and it good to go. However, there is one caveat, it does not support login portals, i.e. if you need to login to browser and accept T&C or enter some details before signing in, Chromecast becomes useless.
    Usefulness – Chromecast is used for streaming contents from your phone or laptop on TV. So popular streaming services like NetFlix, HULU etc can be streamed directly on TV. This made Chromecast is useful for TVs, which do not have built-in WIFI and APPs for streaming. Nowadays, most TVs come with built-in WIFI and most popular apps (like Netflix, HULU etc) and hence the usefulness is now declining. Also, the device becomes useless when you are on a Wi-Fi network that needs login portal, like hotels.

Improvement
For this improvement, we will target on improving the Ease of Use and Usefulness aspects of chromecast. The assumption is that we want to improve usage of Chromecast, i.e. people should use Chromecast more. Let’s first identify our user base who we will be targeting.
User Base
Chromecast is small and hence it is easily mobile. We can carry it with us during our business or vacation travels and hence, the user base I am targeting are travellers.
I would further funnel it down to business travellers because these are the guys who have a long day of meetings and hence need some time to relax at the end of the day.
User Stories
1. As a business traveller, I want to stream movies on my hotel room TV, so that I can relax and watch movies.
2. As a business traveller travelling to a country with different native language, I want to stream my personal content on my hotel room TV, so that I can relax and watch movies or videos.
3. As a business traveller, I want to have video conf with my family on my hotel room TV, so that I can connect with my family.
Prioritization
User Story — US1 and US2

    Hardware change — No
    Software change — Yes
    Cost Impact — Easy to develop
    Impact on profitability — As only software change, so marginal cost remains 0
    Ease of Development — Yes

User Story — US3

    Hardware change — Yes
    Software change — Yes
    Cost Impact — Need enhanced hardware
    Impact on profitability — As hardware is being added, price will increase and we will have marginal cost for per unit developed
    Ease of Development — Yes

Solution
Based on the prioritization matrix, we will go with US1 and 2 as these have no hardware change and hence can work on existing Chromecast with software updates.
We will be enhancing chromecast to open a login portal which can be used to login to Hotel WIFI to which your phone/laptop is connected. Once chromecast is connected to same WIFI as phone/laptop.
Cons: There is one important piece of information to consider here, and that is security. As these can be public networks, casting content need to have enhanced security measures.
Pros: As Chromecast is easy to carry, it makes the device immediately useful for travellers to carry with them and use it in their hotels.

Bijan
Guest

Hi Samir
Thank you for the answer. I think you did a good job of covering the use cases and priorizing them. However, you will want to list out a few solutions (ideas) after prioritizing the use cases. After you list a few solutions, evaluate them based on whatever criteria you find relevant and finally prioritize them according to your criteria. For more info, check out the article I wrote on how to answer a Product Improvement question.
I hope it helps.

Samir
Guest

Thanks Bijan. I’ll take a look at the article and do accordingly :).. Appreciate your response

clag
Guest

First, specify what improve means. Most likely, it would be an improvement in UX. You can talk about goals and constraints – for example, the goal is to increase revenue by selling more chromecast and improving the UX is the desired solution.

List some current user journeys and pain-points. Remember that listing out some bugs (like the resolution not matching, HDMI detection not working) are not very creative and would not score very high-points. For example, I see 4K support in some answers, which already exists. Probably should avoid talking about stuff in the interview that you’re not sure of.

Other things like native video stream (casting local files) are also already coming to chromecast. This would’ve been a decent solution, but again, this wouldn’t be considered creative.

1. As someone that travels a lot for work, this person would love to take a Chromecast around so they could watch their favorite Netflix shows wherever they go.

2.As someone who uses Chromecast for my restaurant, I’d love for my customers to choose what should be cast on the screens.

3. As someone that uses Chromecast at school to cast for my students during Computer class, I’d love an ability to cast to all my students individually and they can interact with it.

#1 would be a simple solution – a wireless chromecast without needing HDMI, but it shouldn’t be chosen. #2 and #3 are more interesting. #2 would be a mobile app where users could vote what should be shown real-time. #3 probably has more value and ties more into revenue (partnership with schools). #3 could require a bit more effort than the others, but would have a lot more business impact and could significantly improve chromecast.

#3 means adding the ability for chromecast to cast to everyone connected on the same wireless network individually. This means that a teacher would have control over the material, and students would be able to follow the teacher. There are already existing programs that do this, but they don’t have Chromecast’s wealth of content. Not only that, but if chromecast could add more educational materials into their platform/product, there could be a huge opportunity where a teacher could switch through student screens, review their work individually, and so on.

GTM plan would be to start at smaller schools and assess their behavior, their needs, evaluate them, experiment constantly and iterate/improve and slowly roll out to more schools.

Education is an interesting sector and chromecast could provide more value than just a media player by allowing a teacher to cast educational material or their own lecture material to individuals.

You could talk about tradeoffs – saying that there are already similar products that exist in classrooms but you could emphasize that it’s a market that Google should be willing to penetrate and innovate in by mentioning that no one really has a huge market share in the sector, and most of the stuff is extremely buggy and slow without noticable updates for years.