Apple TV, Roku in two-horse race for set-top streaming domination

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited February 2014
As rumors of an Apple-branded television set begin to die down, the company's extant living room foray --?the Apple TV set-top box --?is quietly posting strong sales and impressive growth, new NPD data shared with AppleInsider reveals.

Apple TV vs Roku


Just as Apple's iPhone and handsets running Google's Android operating system have combined to take over the mobile phone market, the Apple TV and rival Roku system together dominate the third party set-top box market with approximately 80 percent between them, according to data from consumer research firm NPD. NPD analyst Benjamin Arnold shared the numbers with AppleInsider during an interview.

The market for streaming accessories is growing quickly, with sales up more than 30 percent on a unit basis over the last twelve months. Apple's "hobby" has posted a 23 percent gain over the same period, Arnold says.

Despite not seeing a hardware refresh in nearly two years, the Cupertino, Calif., company has kept the Apple TV fresh with regular software updates, which Arnold believes are ultimately more important to consumers than speeds and feeds.

"People buy Apple TV because they want to solve a problem --?they want to get content from the small screen to the big screen," he said. Apple and Roku maintain a tight grip on the set-top box market.

Since its release, the Apple TV has become an essential part of many families' entertainment workflows. Where a Mac mini may have once done duty under the television as a dedicated home theater device or a MacBook Pro may have become the center of attention while positioned on a footstool, a single click can now beam audio and video seamlessly and without wires from nearly any Apple device to the Apple TV and from there to a large HDTV display.

Even an iPod touch, when paired with an Apple TV, can become a capable home media center.

In addition, Apple regularly adds new channels to the diminutive device, and has recently begun tying live network television into the streamer. A summer update brought HBO Go and WatchESPN. In addition, WatchABC --?which brings content from local ABC affiliates -- was added this month.

Apple TV update


Though the premium television and sports options still require a cable subscription, Apple is said to have begun negotiations directly with content providers in order to remove that stumbling block. The company brought former Hulu marketing and distribution chief Pete Distad on board in July to move those negotiations along.

Asked for his thoughts on the oft-rumored Apple-branded television set, Arnold expressed doubt that Apple would move in that direction anytime soon. He believes Apple would rather focus their efforts on the Apple TV, where content --?an area Apple knows well --?is king.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,105member
    There wouldn't be any two horse race if Apple would just release a damn app store so that local content can be shown.

    And before people go on about the presentation of the apps etc, Apple could easily bring in guidelines for this.
  • Reply 2 of 63
    wigbywigby Posts: 688member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by saarek View Post



    There wouldn't be any two horse race if Apple would just release a damn app store so that local content can be shown.



    And before people go on about the presentation of the apps etc, Apple could easily bring in guidelines for this.

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post



    There wouldn't be any two horse race if Apple would just release a damn app store so that local content can be shown.



    And before people go on about the presentation of the apps etc, Apple could easily bring in guidelines for this.

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post



    There wouldn't be any two horse race if Apple would just release a damn app store so that local content can be shown.



    And before people go on about the presentation of the apps etc, Apple could easily bring in guidelines for this.

     

    Isn't that what airplay already does? I'm being facetious but there is a lot of overlap.

  • Reply 3 of 63

    As a former NeXT/Apple employee, I am sad I still don't have an Apple TV.

     

    Main reason is that our TV app has been on Roku for almost a year

    and Apple does not seem to want to support our Children's Charity

    TV format at this time.

     

    Hopefully this will change soon and then I think Apple will take the lead,

    but until we can get our Apps/Channels on ATV, there is nothing we can do

    but recommend the Roku etc.

     

    Hopefully 2014 brings JenTV and many more independent channels to ATV.

     

    Ian

  • Reply 4 of 63
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member

    Wonder if in these stats the Raspberry Pi with XBMC is taken into account. Currently using this for mkv from nas playback, and the Airplay support in XBMC is a bonus.

  • Reply 5 of 63
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    I use the Apple TV for three things: Netflix, YouTube and AirPlay. Roku is missing two.

    Edit: my biggest gripe with Apple TV is the fact that the physical remote is not Bluetooth LE, but IR with an incredibly narrow focus-range.
  • Reply 6 of 63
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mausz wrote: »
    Wonder if in these stats the Raspberry Pi with XBMC is taken into account. Currently using this for mkv from nas playback, and the Airplay support in XBMC is a bonus.

    Probably not. Have you heard anything about that taking off as a viable competitor?

    Also, the incredibly low priced app iVI (on the Mac App Store) is absolutely brilliant. You can load an MKV which it will then determine if it's a movie or TV show, then locate the show name, season, episodes, release data, and other metadata, then strip off the MKV container and wrap it in an MP4 or M4V container, and finally add to iTunes. It can do all this in under 30 seconds without having to re-encode a video that is already H.264 simply because it has an unsupported container.
  • Reply 7 of 63
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,463member
    As a former NeXT/Apple employee, I am sad I still don't have an Apple TV.

    Main reason is that our TV app has been on Roku for almost a year
    and Apple does not seem to want to support our Children's Charity
    TV format at this time.

    Hopefully this will change soon and then I think Apple will take the lead,
    but until we can get our Apps/Channels on ATV, there is nothing we can do
    but recommend the Roku etc.

    Hopefully 2014 brings JenTV and many more independent channels to ATV.

    Ian

    I have to admit that I don't know who you, or your channel is. Why isn't Apple displaying your channel? There has to be a reason. Once the word "charity" enters the picture, I would be very wary of it. Not to say that you do t do a good job, or aren't honest. I'm not hinting that at all. But charities are a touchy thing to deal with. Apple supports a number of them, but as a supported channel on aTv? I don't know.
  • Reply 8 of 63
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    Probably not. Have you heard anything about that taking off as a viable competitor?



    Also, the incredibly low priced app iVI (on the Mac App Store) is absolutely brilliant. You can load an MKV which it will then determine if it's a movie or TV show, then locate the show name, season, episodes, release data, and other metadata, then strip off the MKV container and wrap it in an MP4 or M4V container, and finally add to iTunes. It can do all this in under 30 seconds without having to re-encode a video that is already H.264 simply because it has an unsupported container.

    Great tip for iVI, will give it a try, as all my media is h264/mkv

     

    As for the raspberry, there was a press release in november where it has sold 2 mln. But not all of those are for XBMC.

     

    I do know all stores which sell the RPi in my country (nl) are almost always offering a special xmbc bundle more prominently than the bare RPi.

  • Reply 9 of 63

    Understood, melgross.

     

    It took a little bit to get the radio app approved, but that has been on iOS for years.

     

    A little about the charity.  We have a Radio and TV studio where sick, healthy and disadvantaged kids

    come in and be a radio star or do a TV show for an hour or two. Some use it as an escape of their illness,

    some use it to share what they are going through and encourage others to get involved.

     

    What makes this charity different is that it operates 2 FM stations in the US and 2 Cable TV stations.

    Music fills the rest of the time on radio and ClassicTV shows, Movies, Music etc. fill the rest of the TV format.

     

    Some Apple employees have given equipment and cash donations for the centers in the past

    and we are ready to support the Apple TV with our programming when Apple is ready to allow the smaller producers

    to create Apps for Apple TV.

     

    Our mission is that we give kids a location to create and share their voice and then broadcast that

    to a wider audience, through our Find Your Voice program.

     

    <Opinion>

    Apple will get there. They are just taking their time right now about making channels available to the smaller partners.</Opinion>

     

    Ian

  • Reply 10 of 63
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mausz wrote: »
    Great tip for iVI, will give it a try, as all my media is h264/mkv

    As for the raspberry, there was a press release in november where it has sold 2 mln. But not all of those are for XBMC.

    I do know all stores which sell the RPi in my country (nl) are almost always offering a special xmbc bundle more prominently than the bare RPi.

    I am one of the 2 million that bought a Raspberry. I played around with it for a day or two and then put it in a box next to my Arduino.
  • Reply 11 of 63
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,976member
    saarek wrote: »
    There wouldn't be any two horse race if Apple would just release a damn app store so that local content can be shown.

    And before people go on about the presentation of the apps etc, Apple could easily bring in guidelines for this.

    As a consumer I will always prefer at least a 2 horse race.
  • Reply 12 of 63
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,406member
    When atv can run plex without a hack, then I'll (and many in my friends and family) will purchase atv over roku. I am a long time apple fan and dev, this is the only area I don't own an apple product. Apple is missing the mark here. Plex is my media world for many reasons. It's either buy a Mac mini, or a roku. Not going to buy a Mac mini for every tv in the house
  • Reply 13 of 63
    The biggest problem with ATV is that there is no App for it. The remote control is a joke and the Remote app is dreadful, providing none of the benefits a thoughtful app could provide: direct access to content, stored preferences, real navigation that doesn't involve constantly backing out of a screen layer by layer by clicking Menu button. If Apple really wants to compete in this arena, rather than treat it as a "hobby" as Jobs described it, they need to step up to the plate and provide a app, or let a 3rd party in the door to do the job.
  • Reply 14 of 63
    Originally Posted by wigby View Post

    Isn't that what airplay already does? I'm being facetious but there is a lot of overlap.


     

    Someone needs to update to 10.9.1.

     

    Originally Posted by emig647 View Post

    When atv can run plex without a hack, then I'll (and many in my friends and family) will purchase atv over roku.



     

    Just say, “I’m never going to buy an Apple TV because I want to use a hideous and unintuitive interface and manually manage every single piece of my content with separate metadata and subtitle files.”

  • Reply 15 of 63
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,105member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wigby View Post

     

     

     

     

    Isn't that what airplay already does? I'm being facetious but there is a lot of overlap.


     

    A few apps do indeed allow airplay, however the quality is not the same streamed from your iDevice as it is when run natively. Also, you have the added hassle of having to have your iDevice open with its battery draining whilst you airplay.

     

    Don't get me wrong, airplay is great and will quite possibly be the answer for gaming on the ATV. Especially now that the controllers are starting to come out.

     

    I don't envision the app store so much for apps, as opposed to channels. Apple could call it the channel store if they wanted to.

     

    Most of the benefits of the Apple TV are only available to Americans and all of the updates are aimed squarely at the US audience. Apple has made no attempt whatsoever to increase the appeal outside of the US despite charging over the odds for the device internationally. The ATV represent the single biggest  price difference of any Apple product in the UK vs the US.

     

    It's........ annoying to say the very least.

     

    EDIT

     

    Just to clarify, the UK ATV price including 20% VAT comes out at $161. The US Apple TV price with 20% added to it is only $118. So we pay $43 more dollars (eye watering 36% more) than Americans do. 

     

    Outside of the US you know that Apple is going to get you to bend over and take it, usually to the tune of 10-15%. But 36%..... and then add in the lack of updates, local content etc etc.

     

    Sure, I don't have to buy an ATV. I could buy a Roku/whatever, but I am heavily invested in Apple technology with around £10000 worth of Apple tech in our home. It would be nice, if just for once Apple acted like they gave a shit about their customers who are not based in the US.

  • Reply 16 of 63
    wigbywigby Posts: 688member
    Quote:



    Originally Posted by saarek View Post

     

     

    A few apps do indeed allow airplay, however the quality is not the same streamed from your iDevice as it is when run natively. Also, you have the added hassle of having to have your iDevice open with its battery draining whilst you airplay.

     

    Don't get me wrong, airplay is great and will quite possibly be the answer for gaming on the ATV. Especially now that the controllers are starting to come out.

     


    All apps allow airplay because you can mirror any app to your Apple TV at anytime. The usefulness of airplay on all apps is a different story.

     

    My point is that to most people there is no difference between watching or interacting with content on the Apple TV vs. the same thing on your device. They don't care where it comes from so long as it plays on the TV. And besides, you'll need a remote anyway so why not use your device. Until Apple releases a full SDK for Apple TV, the airplay/device solution seems OK.

  • Reply 17 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by saarek View Post



    There wouldn't be any two horse race if Apple would just release a damn app store so that local content can be shown.



    And before people go on about the presentation of the apps etc, Apple could easily bring in guidelines for this.



     



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by emig647 View Post



    When atv can run plex without a hack, then I'll (and many in my friends and family) will purchase atv over roku. I am a long time apple fan and dev, this is the only area I don't own an apple product. Apple is missing the mark here. Plex is my media world for many reasons. It's either buy a Mac mini, or a roku. Not going to buy a Mac mini for every tv in the house


     


    This (well, these), exactly. When the AppleTV has an app store and (more to the point) can run Plex natively, then I will buy. I have a first generation AppleTV and I love the interface and seamless integration with my iTunes content but it was only after it was hacked to run Boxee that it truly became a useful device. Sadly, Boxee dropped support for their freely downloadable apps (yeah, I get that they wanted to make money, but they effectively used us all as beta testers for the software they would ultimately use for the Boxee Box) and the first-generation device was simply too underpowered to support the wealth of content that Boxee (and the XMBC port) opened up access too. Most of the channels simply wouldn't run, and the streamed content had to be 480p because the hardware decoder required a very specific format to display 720p.

     

    I still use my 1st-gen device for music and I fire up XBMC on it occasionally because it gives the older device Airplay support, but (primarily because Plex is *that* good, not just for the living room but with a Plex Pass you get the added convenience of access to content offline on iOS and other mobile devices) 99% of the time I go to the Roku for video content. The lack of Plex support on AppleTV has me seriously looking at alternatives (like Vudu and Amazon) for digital video purchases, and I haven't bought a new AppleTV because of its lack of support for apps like Plex.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Also, the incredibly low priced app iVI (on the Mac App Store) is absolutely brilliant. You can load an MKV which it will then determine if it's a movie or TV show, then locate the show name, season, episodes, release data, and other metadata, then strip off the MKV container and wrap it in an MP4 or M4V container, and finally add to iTunes. It can do all this in under 30 seconds without having to re-encode a video that is already H.264 simply because it has an unsupported container.

     

    Okay, that rocks. Thanks! I've hacked together some shell scripts with ffmpeg in an attempt to move h.264 content out of the MKV container and into M4V without the overhead (and degradation) involved in re-transcoding, but was never fully successful, plus I never found a good solution for automatically downloading the metadata after re-containing the media. This looks to be just what I was looking for. $4 is a bargain if it really works!

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by launfall View Post



    The biggest problem with ATV is that there is no App for it. The remote control is a joke and the Remote app is dreadful, providing none of the benefits a thoughtful app could provide: direct access to content, stored preferences, real navigation that doesn't involve constantly backing out of a screen layer by layer by clicking Menu button. If Apple really wants to compete in this arena, rather than treat it as a "hobby" as Jobs described it, they need to step up to the plate and provide a app, or let a 3rd party in the door to do the job.

     

    Funny - I think the AppleTV Remote app is one of the strong selling points. Trying using the Roku Remote app and see how it compares. With tens of thousands of songs in my iTunes collection (especially with iTunes Match), try using your Harmony remote to scroll through and find that proverbial needle in a haystack. The iOS Remote app is so much better. The Plex app for iOS isn't too bad either as you can scroll through content and send it to a Plex app running elsewhere on your network (like on Roku or on a Mac Mini). Unfortunately, it's still not as good as Apple's Remote app for iOS. 

  • Reply 18 of 63
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post

     

    Just to clarify, the UK ATV price including 20% VAT comes out at $161. The US Apple TV price with 20% added to it is only $118. So we pay $43 more dollars (eye watering 36% more) than Americans do. 

     

    Outside of the US you know that Apple is going to get you to bend over and take it, usually to the tune of 10-15%. But 36%..... and then add in the lack of updates, local content etc etc.

     

    Sure, I don't have to buy an ATV. I could buy a Roku/whatever, but I am heavily invested in Apple technology with around £10000 worth of Apple tech in our home. It would be nice, if just for once Apple acted like they gave a shit about their customers who are not based in the US.


     

    +1

     

    But the inclusion of the Sky Sports day pass via NowTV, along with Sky News itself, are nice recent additions to ATV.  AirPlay is the feature I admire/desire most - But as a web streamer, my PS3 is offering what I need at the moment.  And I'm surprised there's still no BBC iPlayer... Can't justify Apple TV (to the wife!) without it.

  • Reply 19 of 63
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,105member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wigby View Post

     

    All apps allow airplay because you can mirror any app to your Apple TV at anytime. The usefulness of airplay on all apps is a different story.

     

    My point is that to most people there is no difference between watching or interacting with content on the Apple TV vs. the same thing on your device. They don't care where it comes from so long as it plays on the TV. And besides, you'll need a remote anyway so why not use your device. Until Apple releases a full SDK for Apple TV, the airplay/device solution seems OK.


    Wrong, all apps can support airplay. However many TV based apps block Airplay.

  • Reply 20 of 63
    Haters gonna stream.
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