Roku (teaser 001)

A lot has changed since a Frost & Sullivan Consumer Video Devices Market report last August determined that Apple’s $99 Apple TV was the most-used set-top box in terms of content streaming, owning a whopping 56 percent share of streaming device sales, more than twice the share of the #2 Roku, which took 26 percent share of sales.

A month later, Roku said its set-top box was more popular for streaming than Apple TV and now a report from researcher Parks Associates reveals that a gap between Roku’s and Apple’s device is widening…

Survey data reported by CNET indicates that Apple’s device remains a distant second in both usage and hardware purchases.

In US households last year, nearly half of all purchases of set-top boxes — small electronics that stream online video and music on your TV — were Rokus, and it remains the device with the greatest usage among people who stream media to their TVs, according to a report from researcher Parks Associates Wednesday.

Specifically, 44 percent of US broadband households that own a streaming-media box used a Roku the most versus 26 percent for the Apple TV, an eighteen-point difference. By comparison, last year the difference was thirteen points so the gap between Roku and Apple is definitely widening.

“Roku’s 46 percent of 2013 US set-top purchases was 20 points ahead of Apple TV, after being 16 points up the year before,” CNET adds.

Throw Google’s $35 Chromecast into the mix and the Apple TV slips to third place.

As per GigaOM, Chromecast has surged past the Apple TV in 2013. With 3.8 million Chromecast units sold last year versus two million Apple TVs, Google’s inexpensive HDMI dongle was the nation’s most popular streaming device.

As for Roku’s rise, it’s due to multiple factors.

For starters, Apple continues to treat the Apple TV as a hobby project. The company is not actively advertising the $99 media-streaming box that hasn’t received a significant hardware refresh for more than two years now.

More importantly, there are more than 1,700 channel apps for the Roku device versus just a handful of channels found on the Apple TV. Keep in mind that Apple still does not allow third-party downloadable apps for the Apple TV.

Roku’s close association with Netflix, a choice of models at different prices and good marketing are all contributing factors cited by Park’s Director of Research Barbara Kraus.

All told, Parks projected more than one out of four US households will have a streaming media player by next year. As for global sales for streaming media players, these should hit the 50 million mark by 2017, hitting US penetration in excess 38 percent.

It’s widely believed that Apple’s living room ambitions are bigger than meets the eye. Rumor has it that an Apple TV App Store is in the works, as is a new Apple TV hardware with speedier chips, a revamped interface, a new controller for gaming and more.

  • Sean Clark

    It’s like choosing between a car and a bus pass.

  • Lurker22

    Apple TV is nicer, but lack of an open app model pushed me to Roku

    • Tom

      That’s why I have a jailbroken Apple TV 2.

      It runs XBMC and play nice with my NAS. Win-win. 🙂

      • Greenhaze22

        Tom, How did you jailbreak your ATV2? I’ve been waiting on a jailbreak for it since I bought it 2-3 years ago. Did I miss the jailbreak?
        Thanks for any help you can provide.

  • Jack Wong

    All I care is the airplay for my Mac or iOS devices.

    • DOOManiac

      That’s all anyone cares about. It’s the only reason to own an Apple TV at this point.

      • Rowan09

        Couldn’t agree more. Most people with an IOS devices doesn’t even know what an Apple TV is until I tell them.

      • This is because the Apple TV until recently hasn’t been marketed that much. You can bet this’ll change once Apple reveals their big masterplan for the television industry…

      • Rowan09

        I agree the Apple TV is for a niche market right now.

      • PhoneTechJay

        I agree 100% I don’t use it for anything else, well sometimes I use the Hulu or Netflix app from the tv itself but is kind of redundant because its on the devices too. If the Roku had AirPlay support I’d switch.

    • mlee19841

      same reason i bought one.

  • James Gunaca

    The gap will be closed when Apple introduces their vision for the future of the living room (and home, via HomeKit).

    • Only if people buy into it. Right now cord cutters and home automation is a very niche market…

      • mlee19841

        sure is. soon u will be able to preheat the oven, start a shower, and so on. cant wait

      • James Gunaca

        I can read your comment sarcastically or not (hard to tell on the internet!) but I think the real improvement of home automation are things like your garage opening automatically when you pull in the drive way, lights turning on as you enter the house (and it knows if other people are there are not based on their iDevice presence). Automation of things like “time for bed” to ensure the oven is OFF, etc. Or if you have an alarm set on your iPhone, and you have a breakfast routine that involves things like making coffee, etc., these can be automated based on alarms set on the phone.

        I could keep coming up with ideas.

      • James Gunaca

        Tablets were a niche market in 2010. Look at it now. I think it just takes a really compelling product, and the force of Apple marketing, to drive market share.

  • Magnusarie

    Makes me laugh when Izealots seems to know Apple master plans LOL
    Apple introduced apple TV for over 5 years now with a few updates and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere profound, moreso apple fanboys and journalists always seems to theorize in their fantasy laden blogs/comments that apple will release a living room dominating product every year and nothing happens.
    What people don’t realize is that apple business model wont allow them to create a living room dominating product.
    TV isn’t like smartphones nor is it a computer.
    A Living room dominating product has to have more open operating and business model and that’s why Roku is succeeding
    The key reason a lot of people buy AppleTV is Airplay!!! and seriously Airplay isn’t a killer feature

  • Alec Champlin

    Neither one of these are really moving forward until “someone” cuts deals with content providers bypassing the cable companies and their lock on the industry. It is strongly rumored that it is these licensing negotiations that are taking years. I just don’t see Roku moving the industry forward, but I’m sure they will grab on to Apple’s coattails by striking their own deals after Apple paves the way. People want quality content. Not old movies, obscure TV channels, or some umpteenth alternative to YouTube and it’s faddish Internet memes.

  • Rich

    I have several Apple products, but I love my Roku player. It has many more channel options, does not require HDMI ( except Roku 3), and has an iOS app that turns my iPhone/iPad into a Roku remote. Mine is an older model, and,if I ever replace it, it will be with another Roku.

  • JSintheStates

    When we bought our first iPad2 at the MOA Apple Store, the sales/tech consultant projected a movie from an iPad onto a large monitor, and we said, “How does that work?” And then we bought an Apple TV (2) the same day! Since disc media is D-E-A-D, My CD and DVD collections are dwindling, and my digital library is growing! I could care less about Google, or Roku, or Amazon!

    What I want is an iPad Pro that actually functions as a laptop or notebook! And a larger iPhone for my AMD vision! Make it so!

  • Eikast

    If Apple TV had plex I’d switch in a heart beat. I hope that the next ATV has an audio port on the remote (like fire tv and roku 3)

  • Honestly, all I need for my TV is XBMC and MiraCast support, and with an $89 Android stick, I can achieve that and a lot more. Funny that people are still selling jailbroken Apple TV in the $300 range just because of XBMC…

  • Robert Heiblim

    The sales number for Apple TV in 2013 is incorrect as is the assertion that Chromecast is outselling it. Roku is doing great and as with other aspects, its lower price point is allowing it to be sold faster. They are partnering which Apple does not generally do either. However, worldwide it still looks like Apple is in the lead. Keep in mind this data is from use of streaming and does not then account for iTunes use, so while Roku leads the gap is likely less than presented. Now that the market is heating up with Android TV on deck and the FireTV from Amazon we can expect more innovation and consumer choice. It will be interesting to see what the Continuity features from Apple in new iOS8 and OSX will do and the similar approach from Google to this usage.

  • ar_meme

    Apple is losing the fight at the moment because they made ATV3 extremely secure. No one has yet rooted the device and based on hackers feedback no one will. ATV2, if you can buy one, fetches upwards of $200 and they go fast. It’s jailbroken which means that it is the ultimate TV experience with apps such as XBMC which can stream anything and everything. I’ve got the ATV3 and jailbroken iPad and I get exactly the same thing via AirPlay. I don’t think Roku can match that.
    I think the reason apple made the ATV3 so secure is to show content providers that their system is unbreakable which gives them “peace of mind”and which in the end will win the war for Apple.

  • Carlos Buso

    The gap is widening! I’ve chosen the Amazon FireTV over the Apple TV. Apple TV ‘s hardware is outdated, UI is outdated, and they STILL don’t have apps or games (except for second screen and mirroring). They need to fix that, hackers need to jailbreak it and THEN it will be TOP device again. Nobody can beat Apple’s app selection and games!

  • I have all Apple products including a jailbroken Apple TV, but I mostly use my Xbox 360 for the kinds of things typical Smart TV’s now have. Apple TV is woefully outdated (you might say my plasma tv is too without Smart features, but oh how I love the picture). iTunes is ridiculously expensive for content that’s probably 1) available through netflix 2) available through Amazon Prime (I have both) OR 3) cheaper to buy a disc at the store, get the extras and have a hard copy and just add it to my media library through Plex.

    Apple TV is terrible and to keep delaying an update with the addition of an app store while the gap widens seems ludicrous to me. Apple is so far behind in content and when they enter the market, as with their new music service, they expect everyone to pay the same premium they pay for the hardware but for a lesser service than competitors. I just don’t think Apple will ever get a real foothold in service revenue unless they come off their high horse. I consider Apple TV and itunes a joke for all but the most basic things.