Roku is killing Ap­ple (and ev­ery­one else) in the stream­ing de­vice space

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

ranks third with 18 per­cent share.

Ap­ple, mean­while, lost ground to ri­vals and owns just 15 per­cent of the market.

See­ing as how one-third of broad­band homes in the coun­try now own a stream­ing me­dia player, Roku’s com­mand­ing lead is quite the feat.

What’s most in­ter­est­ing is that Roku has been able to ce­ment its po­si­tion atop a highly com­pet­i­tive market de­spite its rel­a­tively small stature. Let’s not for­get that Roku en­tered the stream­ing TV mar­ket­place in 2008 as a no­body and was go­ing toe-to-toe with Ap­ple, one of the world’s most-rec­og­niz­able names in con­sumer elec­tron­ics.

Ap­ple re­ally should have won this bat­tle.

“The Ap­ple TV was pretty in­no­va­tive when it first came out,” said Glenn Hower, a se­nior an­a­lyst at Parks As­so­ciates who worked on the firm’s re­port. “But what I think Roku did well is that they pretty quickly forged some pow­er­ful re­tail part­ner­ships.”

As a re­sult, Roku de­vices are widely avail­able to mid­dle Amer­ica at far more di­gestible price points than the Ap­ple TV, he said.

In my opin­ion, Ap­ple has done a poor job in re­cent years at giv­ing con­sumers a rea­son to spend more on its set-top box. Even with the fourth-gen­er­a­tion re­lease, which ad­mit­tedly has some fun bells and whis­tles, meaty soft­ware up­dates are few and far be­tween. Plus, a promised Ama­zon Video app is still sup­pos­edly com­ing “later this year.”

What good is a stream­ing me­dia de­vice if I can’t eas­ily watch con­tent from one of the top pur­vey­ors of dig­i­tal video?

Per­haps even more telling of Roku’s prow­ess in the stream­ing world is the fact that the Parks As­so­ciates rank­ing only re­flects stand­alone sticks and boxes, mean­ing it doesn’t tell the full story. That story is even more flat­ter­ing for Roku.

Here’s why: Roku, un­like most of its com­peti­tors, has been li­cens­ing its op­er­at­ing sys­tem to TV man­u­fac­tur­ers such as TCL, Sharp and In­signia. And just like Roku’s other de­vices, the Roku-branded TV sets are sold in fa­mil­iar stores: Wal­mart, Costco and Best Buy.

Roku said, that as of Dec. 2016, the Roku TV plat­form held around 13 per­cent share of the smart TV market in the U.S.

That mat­ters be­cause Parks As­so­ciates has wit­nessed a slow­down in the adop­tion of stream­ing me­dia de­vices and a si­mul­ta­ne­ous spurt in the up­take of smart TVs.

“We saw stream­ing me­dia play­ers ex­pe­ri­ence ex­plo­sive growth from 2010 un­til about a year ago,” Hower told me. “But smart TV (adop­tion) is go­ing up.”

His firm es­ti­mates that 45 per­cent of U.S. broad­band house­holds now own a smart TV.

Hower said there’s an in­ter­est­ing push-pull dy­namic hap­pen­ing be­tween stream­ing me­dia play­ers and smart TVs. And it’s hard to say where the stand­alone de­vices will fit into the equa­tion, es­pe­cially as con­sumers in the market for a new TV will likely buy a smart TV, since that’s what’s pre­dom­i­nantly avail­able.

My own re­cent TV re­place­ment ex­pe­ri­ence re­sulted in pur­chas­ing a Roku TV made by TCL, a set that ap­pealed to me be­cause of the Roku soft­ware, which I know guar­an­tees me ac­cess to all (and not just some) of the stream­ing apps that I can’t live with­out.

What’s more, Roku’s op­er­at­ing sys­tem neatly ties in with what­ever you hook up to the set’s HDMI ports, mean­ing I get an in­ter­face that lets me bounce be­tween my an­tenna and my stream­ing apps with­out hav­ing to switch in­puts or re­motes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.