Do you Roku? If you are a Connected TV household, then statistically you probably have a Roku set-top box. According to a July 2017 eMarketer report, 38.9 million people use a Roku device at least once per month, representing 23% of all Connected TV users. Google’s Chromecast is in a close second with 36.9 million. Beating Google is a big victory for Roku. The last time eMarketer conducted their Connected TV survey, Google’s Chromecast had been the frontrunner. Amazon’s Fire TV is gaining users fast and jumps up to 3rd place with 35.8 monthly users. Apple TV is in a distant last place with 21.3 million monthly users.
Roku is the only independant company out of its Connected TV competitors. It’s not affiliated with another device like Android or iPhone, or a content offering like Amazon Prime. Although that independence might sound like a handicap, it’s actually been an advantage for Roku. It enables Roku to broker deals with a wide range of partners.
“As the only major market participant not affiliated with a content or TV device platform, Roku has used its neutrality to strike deals with a wide range of partners, including smart TV makers, over-the-top (OTT) service providers and social media companies,” said Paul Verna, principal video analyst at eMarketer.
For example, one of the biggest drawback of the Apple TV is the lack of an Amazon Prime app. Apple and Amazon are hardware competitors and Apple doesn’t want the Amazon Prime app on their platform.
After Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple, their product line dramatically expanded. Apple’s new CEO, John Sculley, increased their product line to include a dizzying array of computers. The end result was consumer and market confusion. Upon Jobs return to Apple in 1997, he swiftly moved the company back to a simplified product line starting with the iMac.
Many technology companies have learned from Apple and now often offer only a streamlined product line. For example, Amazon only has 3 versions of their Fire TV product: Fire TV Stick, Fire TV and Fire TV Smart TV.
But going against the pack, Roku has a variety of of devices at different price points. This variety has been very successful for them and helpful to consumers.
Roku has a low-cost entry-level device priced at $40 or lower. And historically, their hardware has always been affordable. Amazon and Google have matched Roku’s price point and offer similarly priced entry-level devices. But the Apple TV remains the most expensive of the Connected TV devices on the market.
Can Roku Hold The Lead For Much Longer?
Roku has held off their competition so far, but how much longer can they last? Amazon, Apple and Google have infinite resources and funding. When they finally wake up to the potential of Connected TV, will Roku be able to survive? Please post a note in the comments.