Apple TV Loses Ground to Alternative Streaming Options

December 5, 2014 •

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In a report via CNET on Tuesday, December 2, clear numbers indicate Apple TV is far from first place when considering other streaming media set-top-box options. Utilizing statistics culled from Parks Associates, 10% of US broadband households purchased at least one streaming player this year. In the study a streaming media player covers the range from sticks to set-top-boxes and provide access to services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, HBO, and the like.

Since 2012, Roku’s hardware is the first choice among purchasers. Apple TV came in second place both 2012 and 2013, but slipped to third this year behind both Roku and Google’s Chromecast. Chromecast stuck in with 20% market share in the first nine months of 2014 with Apple TV three points behind. Apple’s 17% market share in 2014 is a stark contrast to 26% in 2013. Amazon Fire TV also came to the line up with a solid spot behind Apple TV and ahead of Sony.

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The rapidly changing environment implicates several things for the consumer and Apple as well. Primarily, this change in market share represents competition in the space. Parks predicts approximately 50 million streaming players to be sold globally by 2017. While that doesn’t represent a single jump in market share for any particular device, it does project the demand for such a product.

With demand will come increased technologies in the space and additional competition to further drive down prices. Just like Beta over VHS or BluRay over HDDVD, streaming will be a new widely accepted standard and perhaps outpace aged, traditional linear programming models. Also, look for additional options as streaming becomes more ubiquitous. Amazon, which already had the Amazon Fire TV, just released a newer version, the Amazon Fire Stick, proving that even companies with existing technology will continue to out innovate themselves for a share of the profits.

For Apple, other services are starting to pull ahead. Of course, Tim Cook is famous for calling Apple TV a hobby and is only recently changing his tune in public interviews and earnings calls. If Apple is going to prevent more slippage, there needs to be a radical change in both the hardware and software.

Amazon’s Fire TV is setting the mark with a quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, making it the most robust computing option in the streaming set-top-box category. Fire TV will even play games and boasts a dedicated gaming controller. In stark contrast, Apple TV currently lacks any form of gaming, voice navigating, or multi-core processing.

The Apple TV needs a radical overhaul, which armchair analysts have called for over many months. Last updated in March 2012, Apple TV is quickly becoming the lack luster dust collector for many people looking for the next best thing. It is in Apple’s best interest to pay close attention to the streaming-media space and quickly update its offering. Otherwise, Apple TV will fade away with the iPod Classic.