Apple TV seen losing ground to Roku and Google’s Chromecast

Apple TV Glee

Apple’s $99 Apple TV box is reportedly losing ground to rivals in the media streaming space, according to a new study by market research firm Parks Associates shared by CNET.

At a time when as much as ten percent of U.S. households with a broadband connection have bought a media-streaming device in the first nine months of this year, Apple’s market share went down to seventeen percent.

As a result of increased competition, the Apple TV fell down to the number three slot, with Roku and Google’s Chromecast holding the #1 and #2 slot, respectively.

Based on Parks Associates data, Roku was able to secure 29 percent of sales in the first nine months while Google’s inexpensive $35 HDMI dongle (the Apple TV costs $99) came in second with a twenty percent share and stealing Apple TV’s previous slot.

As for Amazon’s Fire TV media-streamer and the newly-introduced Fire TV Stick, the two devices together accounted for a combined ten percent share. First introduced in March 2012 and then slightly revised on January 28 of last year, the Apple TV is way overdue for refresh.

Parks Associates chart (Streaming Media Devices, January-September 2014)

Although Apple’s been adding new content sources to the device on a regular basis, the latest examples being new channels such as CBS News, Hallmark Card’s Feeln, A&E’s FYI, FXNOW and many more, the hardware and software saw little action in terms of functionality over the past three years.

Rumors have suggested that a next-generation Apple TV may include a powerful processor. Combined with a built-in App Store, the rumored device would allow for downloadable games and apps to be executed and played directly on it, as opposed to AirPlaying content from an iOS device.

I’m not so convinced that a new Apple TV is around the corner.

Apple’s repeatedly insisted that the Apple TV is just a hobby and I don’t think they’ll waste resources to refresh the hardware just for the heck of it.

In fact, I don’t think we’ll see a new Apple TV revision until Tim Cook & Co. finish transitioning Apple’s entire desktop lineup to Retina-class 4K screens, a process which has started with MacBooks and now continues with the new iMac with 5K Retina display.

Only then will Apple upgrade iTunes movies to 4K resolution and only then will a major revamp of the Apple TV with full 4K support make sense.

Here’s something to chew on: “Nearly 50 percent of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear, up from 38 percent in 2010, and it is already the majority for people 18-44,” Barbara Kraus, director of research at Parks Associates, said in a statement.

The research firm projected 50 million sales of streaming media players by 2017. To be perfectly fair, Apple is the only top player in the market without a stick product in the streaming media device category. As a result, would-be shoppers are not incentivized at all to opt for Apple’s pricier $99 device when plenty affordable alternatives exist.

What do you use your Apple TV for these days?

[Parks Associates via CNET]