Roku hasn't yet succeeded in its goal to become the new operating system for the connected TV, but it is ruling the roost when it comes to media streaming hardware.
A new Parks Associates study has found that US consumers buy more Roku Inc. devices than any other brand of retail set-top or streaming stick. Roku captured 34% of the market in 2014, outperforming second-place Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which secured 23% with its Chromecast device. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)'s Fire TV products came in third place, outpacing Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s Apple TV, which fell to fourth.
Perhaps more importantly, Roku devices are used more often than any other rival streamer. Parks notes that 37% of households with a streaming device reported using a Roku. That number dropped to 19% for Google's Chromecast, 17% for the Apple TV and 14% for Amazon Fire TV products.
The number of US broadband households with any retail streaming device is still just shy of 20%. However, the fracturing of the pay-TV and media markets means that service providers are trying to expand to new hardware platforms, and programmers are seeking new distribution routes that include developing their own apps and experimenting with skinny bundles that can be streamed to any connected device. At the same time, the smart TV market still hasn't consolidated, which gives streaming devices more value. (See also Smarter 'Dumb' TVs Will Drive OTT Adoption.)
Parks does note that the streaming media hardware market will prove difficult for any newcomers to the scene.
"The market consolidation around these four brands forces new entrants to develop more creative features and functionality to tap into the strong consumer demand for streaming content," says director of research Barbara Kraus. "Devices with additional functionality such as the Intel Compute Stick may be a sign of things to come, where streaming is not the primary function but an extra feature to provide additional value."
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading