A new 4K HDR player didn’t improve Apple’s standing in the streaming TV wars last year. According to IDC, Amazon’s Fire TV line led the way in 2017 streaming player shipments, followed by Google’s Chromecast in second place and Roku players in third place. That presumably leaves Apple TV in last place among the major streaming devices. IDC analyst Adam Wright tells Fast Company that the rankings were the same in 2016.
Apple’s standing isn’t a shock given that the Apple TV 4K sells for $180. That’s more than twice the price of its competitors’ 4K HDR players, and the vast majority of consumers refuse to pay a premium for streaming devices.
It’s more surprising to see Roku land behind Fire TV and Chromecast, as its products often win high praise from gadget reviewers despite their low prices. Roku spokeswoman Seana Norvell didn’t deny that other streaming players may be ahead in global sales, but pointed to research from Kantar Millward Brown showing Roku ahead in aggregate U.S. streaming hours (both with and without counting usage on Roku-powered smart TVs).
As Roku’s business shifts from player sales to monetizing users through advertising and revenue sharing, that’s arguably the only statistic that matters.