For Roku, Amazon and other connected TV gadget makers, it’s game Onn.
Walmart on Thursday quietly debuted two economy-priced, Android TV-powered streaming devices, both carrying the big box chain’s own "Onn" brand.
Priced at $29.98, the Onn “Android TV UHD Device” includes Dolby Audio capabilities, an HDMI cable, and not that many other frills, but it nicely undercuts the Roku Express 4K, a $35 device manufactured by Roku just for Walmart.
Also making its debut is a $25 Onn-branded, Android TV-powered HD-only streaming stick, that seems to be out of stock right now.
Both devices include the advantages of the Google Play Store in Android TV, which features every major SVOD and AVOD streaming app. And both devices include Google Assistant voice control through their respective remotes.
The Onn-branded OTT devices had been spotted earlier, but the news here is that they’re now available.
Just as it was during the DVD era, Walmart is an important retail destination in the now streaming-focused video business. Precisely how influential Walmart is is hard to sketch out. But Roku said in 2019 that 73% of its sales are generated by three retail outlets: Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart.
It’s not yet known if and how the two biggest connected TV gadget makers, Roku and Amazon, will adjust to Walmart entering the streaming gadget game, but we’re already seeing some flux among other tech manufacturers.
Xperi, which now owns TiVo, just started a new retail partnership for its TiVo Stream 4K with Target. Last year, Walmart was supporting the gadget, then priced at $50, with prime “end cap” store floor positioning. But now the TiVo Stream 4K is price-reduced by 40%, to $30, in order to liquidate remaining inventory at Walmart. And it's not featured in Walmart end caps anymore.
Asked about the TiVo Stream 4K’s ongoing fate Thursday, an Xperi rep told us that the device will be back … at Best Buy.
Google's Android TV operating system remains the equivalent of Microsoft Windows in the OTT gadget game, and Walmart sells myriad lesser-known brands of connected TV players, dongles and sticks that are powered by the software.
But with Walmart controlling its brick and mortar floor space, not to mention the search authority of its e-commerce operation, it’s tough to predict whether all of these “off” brand devices will find enough oxygen to survive.
The potential impact on Google is interesting, too.
Google introduced its own streaming device running on an enhanced version of Android TV, called Google TV, last October. The new Onn gadgets would seem to undercut the $50 Chromecast with Google TV. But Google’s real end game is proliferating its OS across as many devices is it can over the next few years in its efforts to catch up to Roku and Amazon.
Having a retailer with 4,743 brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S. alone enticed to push out Android TV devices is certainly good for Google's business.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!