Roku, Boxee Don't Fear Apple TV's Bite

Two leading over-the-top video rivals are dismissing the threat posed by the new Apple TV box, with executives from Roku Inc. and Boxee boasting that they offer Web surfers more diverse content than the movies and TV series Apple intends to distribute. (See Will Smaller Apple TV Spell Big Trouble for VoD?)

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s plan to begin selling the new $99 Apple TV receiver next month could influence Boxee’s plans to begin distributing its $199 Boxee Box in November. But Boxee isn’t cutting the price for its receiver, which will allow users access to Web video content from dozens of providers. (See Boxee Eyes Over-the-Top Live TV and Boxee's Ronen: The DVR Is Dying.)

“We have a different view of what users want in their living rooms. We are taking different paths to get there. The Boxee Box is going to be $100 more expensive than the Apple TV, but will give you the freedom to watch what you want,” Boxee CEO Avner Ronen wrote in a blog post late Wednesday.

Apple TV also poses more competition for Roku, which markets Internet video receivers priced between $59 and $99. Roku vice president of marketing Chuck Seiber said his firm is targeting different consumers than Apple and offers unique content including Major League Baseball games and Ultimate Fighting Championship matches.

“We’re going to make our product really inexpensive, really super easy to use,” Sieber said. He also noted that Roku has managed to stave off competition from consumer electronics firms marketing broadband-connected Blu-ray players and TVs.

And there could be room for all of them, anyway. Market research firm IHS iSuppli says shipments of Internet-enabled livingroom devices, including TVs, video gaming consoles, and set-tops, will increase to more than 430 million units in 2014, up from 99.3 million in 2009.

Roku and Boxee face more competition in the OTT space from more established players ranging from TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) and its broadband-connected Premiere HD DVR to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which plans to begin marketing Google TV receivers with Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) this fall. (See Google TV Comes Out, the World Tunes In and TiVo CEO: 'iPad Effect' Could Spur Cable Deals.)

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:24:53 PM
re: Roku, Boxee Don't Fear Apple TV's Bite

No surprise that Roku and Boxee would never let Apple see them sweat in the midst of the new Apple TV, but former LR scribe Ryan Lawler does a nice job sizing up the competition over at NewTeeVee, comparing elements such as price, outputs, inputs, and 3rd party content.  His conclusion? The relative startup duo should stack up favorably against Apple's latest toy. JB


bmenezes 12/5/2012 | 4:24:52 PM
re: Roku, Boxee Don't Fear Apple TV's Bite

...$50 says here that mass market consumers more likely to gravitate to device that's 50% cheaper and has a platinum brand name -- despite its currently more limited content selection -- than to more expensive devices from brands 99% of mainstream consumers never have heard of.

You can pay me in Abitas at Cable-Tec Expo...

SteveDonohue 12/5/2012 | 4:24:51 PM
re: Roku, Boxee Don't Fear Apple TV's Bite

I wouldn't want to take that bet. Boxee and Roku are popular with a lot of college kids and early adopters, but it will be difficult for them to compete with the marketing muscle of Apple TV or Google/Sony/Intel. 

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:24:51 PM
re: Roku, Boxee Don't Fear Apple TV's Bite

Sounds like a sucker bet, but I'll still treat you to something dangerous in The Big Easy. Hard to argue that Apple TV won't outsell the lot based on brand and price alone. But there's a nice niche of users there who will do their homework before making a pick (if they just pick one), which could help out Boxee and Roku.  I still think there's room enough for all three to survive, if not thrive, based on the growing popularity of Web-fed video.  But there are others out there, too, that could soon be tagged for also-ran status, so this may end up being a race for second and third... and either of those wouldn't be so bad. JB


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