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Roku Seeks Expansion Into Home Automation

Roku remote control
(Image credit: Roku)

With its key rivals, Amazon and Google, already well established in the business of home automation, Roku is hiring a “senior business development manager of home technologies.”

In a LinkedIn job posting, Roku concedes that while its well positioned in the “future of television” and TV advertising, its continued success “relies on investing in IoT-driven technologies for the home.”

In the new position, Roku says, the hire “will be responsible for vetting new partners & developing partnerships to connect Roku with home ecosystems more deeply. In this role, you’ll work with cross-functional teams within Roku. You will work closely with product, engineering, legal, marketing, and finance teams to drive Roku’s business goals.” (Hat tip to Protocol for first spotting this LinkedIn posting.)

Roku hasn’t publicly commented on its intentions to enter the home automation market. 

Hardware sales represented less than 19% of Roku’s revenue in the first quarter, with the OTT company’s ad sales exploding another 101% to $466.5 million. And notably, due to the global semiconductor shortage, Roku told investors that it expects to lose money making and selling streaming sticks, dongles and players, and licensing its OS out to OEM smart TV makers, through the rest of 2021.

Still, proliferating the Roku UI is an existential part of Roku’s success, with active accounts swelling to 53.6 million and streaming hours on platform rising to 18.3 billion in Q1. 

The business of connecting streaming devices to home automation appliances including doorbells, thermostats, baby monitors and cameras is a competitive one, and Roku doesn’t appear poised to make a ton of money in it anytime soon. 

However, both Google and Amazon have integrated their respective OTT operating systems within their broader home automation environments. 

Google, for example, supports things like Netflix playback on its Google Assistant-enabled Google Nest Hub, a home automation device. Meanwhile, it’s steadily evolving Android TV and Google TV to work with devices like IoT cameras.

Amazon has deployed a similar strategy, with Amazon Fire TV integrated into Alexa Voice-powered devices like Echo

As Protocol also noted, two years ago, Roku also purchased the intellectual property of San Francisco startup Blackfire Research, which specialized in the wireless connection of devices, allowing users “to seamlessly share anything to anything.”