Android TV Could Loosen Roku's Grip: IHS

The global base of streaming media players will reach 50 million units by the end of this year, with Google’s coming Android TV platform poised to shake up the market, IHS Technology predicted in a new forecast.

In the U.S., IHS expects the installed base of streaming media players to reach 24 million, up from 16 million last year, and 10 million in 2012.

While Roku and Apple TV currently dominate the global market, Android TV, a platform that is seeking to find a home inside not just smart TVs but specialized streaming devices, could disrupt it and possibly loosen their grip, the research firm said.

Android TV, unlike the much-maligned Google TV platform, appears ready to provide the functionality and ecosystem to make serious inroads against TV-focused streaming media players from Roku and Apple. But of those two market leaders, IHS believes Android TV is best positioned to wreak havoc on Roku's position.

Google unveiled Android TV in June at the company’s I/O developer’s conference, announcing that TVs from Sony, Sharp and TP Vision, as well as streaming media devices from Asus and Razr would be among the initial wave of products that would use the new platform. Google hasn’t announced precisely when Android TV products would become commercially available, but the company has reportedly begun to send out kits to developers.

“Today Roku and Apple TV continue to dominate the U.S. installed base for streaming media players, with a combined 94 percent share in 2013, and Amazon’s Fire TV is a significant recent entrant. However, the arrival of Android TV is expected to significantly affect the competitive dynamics of this market over the long run,” Paul Erickson, senior analyst for the connected home at IHS, said in a statement. “Although standalone media player products utilizing Android TV do not have the brand recognition, established brand equity, or level of retail distribution that products from companies like Apple, Amazon, and Roku possess, over time these standalone players are expected to create competitive pricing and positioning concerns by delivering previously absent levels of polish, capability, ecosystem integration, and content access to consumers at lower price points.”

By 2017, IHS expects the number of installed streaming media players to reach 44 million by 2017. When factoring in Blu-ray players, smart TV, and game consoles, the research company expects the total U.S. installed base of connected TV devices to eclipse 213 million units by 2017, up from 169 million now.