After two years of success with their Roku 3, the company has decided to stop resting on its laurels. Hardware upgrades have now been applied to their current lineup and software updates given to a surprising number (6) of legacy devices still supported reaching back to 2011. The newest version adds a new remote which has dedicated Voice Search capability. This new Voice Search function allows you to pull up and navigate to any channel on vocal command. The specifications of the internals are not yet known, but it is said that the outgoing Roku 3 is basically the new Roku 2 without the special remote and an added headphone jack.
On the software side, a new feature called Roku Feed will allow you to follow specific movies as a type of wish list. It’s billed as a place to look when you just don’t know what to watch! Many of us have felt Netflix search fatigue, and such a feature will surely help alleviate that decidedly first-world problem. (I’m glad we solved this prior to world-hunger…Sarcasm)
For years Roku has had the market cornered on company-sponsored channels and private, indie channels alike. The ability for anyone to push out content within a private channel on Roku has helped move their reportable numbers into the thousands of channels. This is somewhat of a meaningless statistic because most of those are completely uninteresting, but when compared to Apple’s ecosystem of (classically) fewer than ten supported applications, the difference is stark.
However, as other devices are competing with Roku’s lineup, they’ve seen their numbers slip year after year. Presenting at this year’s CES, Parks Associates showed that Roku had decreased from 46% to 29% market share since 2013 as both Amazon and Google have introduced multiple alternatives. These alternatives, Chromecast and FireTV (and Stick), are sold at very competitive price points with compelling media streaming service options. Now with these competitors and the coming age of a la carte TV, HBO Go, and Sling on other streaming boxes, Roku will need to keep innovating features and aggregating services to continue to compete.
What do you use to stream, and why do you prefer it? Let us know in the comments.