Roku cuts price on streaming player to counter Apple
San Francisco — Emboldened by a successful IPO, Roku is reducing the price on the next generation of its best video streaming player in an attempt to fend off competitive threats from Apple and Amazon.
The latest Roku Ultra player announced Monday will sell for $100. That’s a 23 percent decrease from the Roku Ultra released last year, a device that had been selling for $130 until a recent clearance sale.
Roku is also upgrading an array of other streaming devices, priced from $29 to $70, less than week after completing an initial public offering of stock that raised $219 million for the Los Gatos, California, company. In vote of confidence, Roku’s stock has already nearly doubled from its IPO price of $14.
Roku vs. Apple
Even with that strong start on Wall Street, Roku still only has a market value of $2.5 billion, making it a relative David battling two Goliaths in Apple ($800 billion market value) and Amazon ($462 billion). Roku also still hasn’t turned a profit.
But the price cut on the Roku Ultra could make it tougher for Apple to win over video streaming fans with its just released player featuring super-sharp “4K” video — a step up from standard high definition. The new Apple TV player costs almost $180, up from almost $150 for an earlier model without 4K.
The Roku Ultra also plays 4K video and offers more streaming channels than Apple TV, but it isn’t compatible with Apple’s own video store or Apple’s music subscription service. Apple is counting on those services to justify its higher priced Apple TV for the tens of millions of consumers hooked on its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.
Roku vs. the rest
The Roku Ultra is still more expensive than the next generation of Amazon’s Fire TV streaming player. Amazon last week announced that the latest Fire TV model with 4K video will sell for $70, down from $100 previously.
Meanwhile, computer chip maker Nvidia is trying to make its own splash with a Shield streaming player that it rolled out two years ago.
The next generation of the Shield player comes equipped with Google’s digital assistant to find and navigate through video with voice commands while also providing on-screen answers to many questions. It also sells for almost $180.
Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, can be used to control its streaming player while Amazon’s assistant, Alexa, works with Fire TV.
Although it is much smaller than its rivals, Roku is the leading seller of video streaming players in the U.S. with a 37 percent share of the market, according to the research firm Park Associates.
Amazon has been gaining ground with a 24 percent share, up from 16 percent last year. Apple’s share stands at 15 percent, which also trails Google’s Chromecast streaming device at 18 percent.
There’s still ample room for growth. Park Associates estimates that two-thirds of U.S. households still don’t have a video streaming player.
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