At present, Roku owns the largest chunk of the market share for streaming set top boxes, and that's impressive given the presence of heavyweights in the same arena. Apple, Amazon, and Google are all clamoring for a larger piece of the pie.
There's the Apple TV, a somehow baffling choice out of the bunch. It's great, it works okay, but because it's from Apple, it's expensive. Super expensive? Perhaps not. But Roku streaming devices can go as low as $30, and if you're looking to buy a streaming device and you're torn between Apple and Roku, you'll likely try to determine what you'll ultimately use it for — mainly, to cast content on your TV. Then the choice becomes clear as day.
The Apple TV Isn't Irresistible
Apple has enjoyed this reputation of having the most premium products on the market — when you buy Apple products, it's almost as if you're buying a status symbol. This strategy still works — but only for its iPhones and MacBooks. Why? Because even if they're expensive, they're irresistible. The Apple TV is expensive, but it's not irresistible.
Recent rumors suggest Apple is planning to release a next-generation Apple TV with 4K and HDR capabilities, which sounds nice. It makes sense, too — its competitors have already done the same thing. However, there's a problem here: neither 4K nor HDR will make the Apple TV irresistible, because it will remain expensive.
Streaming Devices In General
The general use of a streaming box complicates the situation. Outside of streaming and casting content, what is the importance of having a streaming device? Some may give excellent examples, but even so, it can be argued that streaming sticks or set-top boxes are at best complementary, and perhaps even expendable. If that's so, wouldn't consumers stick to a cheaper option for something they don't really need that badly?
Who knows? Maybe the Apple TV has appeal. But the numbers show otherwise. According to new data from research firm Parks Associates, 37 percent of all streaming devices in the United States were made by Roku. Amazon's Fire TV sticks came in second place, at 24 percent. Google enjoys 18 percent with its Chromecast devices, and down the heap is Apple with just 15 percent, down three points from last year in the same quarter.
"Higher-priced devices, such as the Apple TV, have not been able to keep up with low-priced and readily available Roku devices, which can be found at Walmart for as low as $29.99," said the firm's senior analyst Glenn Hower.
So it's clear. Apple can turn things around if it makes its own streaming device really cheap. A $149 streaming device is no match for something you can pick up for $30 that can do most of the basic stuff. Barron's makes a great point: the benefits of owning an Apple TV is unclear at the moment. Perhaps it needs to bring something new to the table, a strong driving force that'll convince consumers an Apple TV is the gadget to buy. Do you think 4K and HDR alone will make the Apple TV the clear first choice for customers looking for a streaming device?