While Apple and Amazon are the ones dominating the headlines with their newest streaming devices, there's now word that Yahoo may be ready to enter the fray.
According to an industry source, Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) is considering launching its own device "that would plug into your television and allow you to seamlessly stream your favorite shows and movies from your phone for a shared viewing experience."
If that sounds familiar, it should, as the proposed Yahoo device is described in terms very similar to the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Chromecast stick, Roku Inc. products, Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV streamers. Yahoo goes on to say that, in conjunction with a mobile app, its new device would auto-detect streaming services and present a program guide with unified search capabilities and mood-based browsing.
In the retail market, Yahoo would face stiff competition with a new media streamer. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) has already introduced 4K Ultra HD support for Fire TV, and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is known both for its superior user interface design and dedicated fan base. (See Amazon Unveils 4K Fire TV and Apple Brings tvOS to Apple TV.)
At the lower end of the market, the Chromecast and Roku platforms are already well established, meaning it would be difficult for Yahoo to compete either on features or on price.
As an alternative, it's worth mentioning that TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) has succeeded in the streaming space with a different approach. The DVR company has built its business by incorporating traditional pay-TV services into its products and selling its platform directly to pay-TV providers. TiVo said this week that it's bringing in an average of $2 per subscriber through its cable deployments, a revenue stream that nicely contributes to the company's bottom line.
However, Yahoo has no foundation in the pay-TV business, and there's no indication that it wants to develop one. That means the company is likely looking at the already crowded retail market and will have to face all of the challenges inherent there.
Over-the-top video services are increasingly popular, which is probably why Yahoo is considering its own streaming hardware product. However, the increasingly ubiquitous availability of video services means the device that viewers use to access content is less important than it once was.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading