July 26, 2013, 6:50 AM — With Google's Chromecast sold out and backordered for weeks, profiteers are offering the new stream-to-TV device for as much as $300 on eBay, a 757% markup.
As of late Thursday, more than 130 listings on eBay showed Chromecast as "Buy It Now," meaning that customers could circumvent an auction and purchase the device immediately.
The highest-priced of the eBay listings had the Chromecast for $300. The least expensive was $55, representing a 57% profit.
eBay sellers taking advantage of Chromecast shortages are asking as much as $300 for the $35 dongle.
Google introduced Chromecast on Wednesday and began selling them for $35 through its Google Play store that same day. Amazon.com and Bestbuy.com, the online arm of the brick-and-mortar chain, also carried Chromecast.
The Chromecast dongle plugs into a TV's HDMI port. Users then pull content from the cloud via apps like Netflix and YouTube, or direct whatever is displayed on a Chrome browser's tab. A smartphone, tablet or personal computer acts as a remote control. While it's been compared to Apple's Apple TV, a $99 device that also connects to a television, Chromecast uses a different tactic to win living room hearts and minds.
All three e-marts exhausted their initial supplies within 24 hours. On Thursday, Google Play said that new orders would be shipped in three to four weeks.
The quick sell-out also forced Google to shut down a promotion that originally gave buyers three free months of Netflix service, valued at $24. Current Netflix subscribers received a credit to their account in that amount.
"Please note that the Netflix promotional offer (which was available in limited supply) has now ended," read a message on Amazon.com. "Customers who ordered their Chromecast prior to 5:31 PM PST on July 24, 2013, will receive a Netflix gift code via email within 5 days of their product's ship date."
Amazon affiliate sellers also joined the price gouging, selling Chromecast for between $72 and $157, or 106% and 349% above list price, respectively.
High prices for out-of-stock electronics, especially immediately after a product's launch, are not unusual. Shortages of Apple's iPad 2 in 2011 and the first Retina-equipped iPad in early 2012 drove prices sky-high as sellers listed the tablets for hundreds above retail.