Lately, my friends and family have been expressing interest in adding a set-top box to their lives. I have been a proponent of the cable cutting devices for many years now and recently it seems that consumer interest has finally begun to catch up to the technology, especially since Amazon launched its branded Fire TV a few months ago.
Today, a report has come out that shows Apple TV losing steam among consumers, even as interest in set-top boxes rises. With these low numbers, it appears that Apple still considers the streaming media player to be just a hobby.
The report, published by market research firm Parks Associates, shows that interest in set-top boxes have grown significantly over the past year and an estimated 25 percent of U.S. households will have a streaming media player by 2015. The Roku made up nearly half of all devices purchased in the U.S. in 2013 with 46 percent, while Apple was far behind with only 26 percent.
The report also showed that Roku is the most used set-top box in the market. According to Parks Associates, 44 percent of U.S. households use their Roku the most, while only 26 percent use Apple TV the most. This gap has widened in the past year. Last year’s report showed 37 percent of households using Roku the most and 24 percent using Apple TV the most.
Analysts point to the diverse content available on Roku as a reason for its popularity. Not only does Roku have a robust Netflix playback service, but it also offers more than 1,700 “channel” apps, each with different offerings and price points.
Another factor is that Apple hasn’t done much marketing for their Apple TV product line. “While approximately 50% of U.S. households have at least one Apple product, such as an iPhone or iPad, the company has not yet been able to leverage this success for its Apple TV offering,” said Barbara Kraus, director, research, Parks Associates. “Apple has not committed support and promotion to its Apple TV product line in the U.S., and its sales reflect this fact.”
It should be noted that, although Apple TV is not performing well in the U.S., it is the number one worldwide set-top box with 20 million units sold as compared to Roku with only eight million units sold globally.
Rumors surrounding an Apple TV refresh have surfaced in the past year. Supposedly, Apple will launch a next-generation device with Bluetooth MFi controller support, an integrated wireless router, and possibly even motion control. While many of these features are likely just wishes in the wind, Apple TV will probably get a faster processor chip and might even support some kind of downloadable App Store. Performance-wise, the Apple TV runs great. Content-wise, the device needs a lot of work. If Apple TV were more tightly integrated with iOS and OS X, it could easily beat out Roku for being the most-used set-top box on the market.