Apple has been aggressively marketing its new net tops having recently introduced tvOS – something it needed to do, having struggled to migrate its devoted users to the big screen – meanwhile its mobile arch-rival Google has made huge market share gains in streaming media.
It is the fifth quarter in a row that Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle has won the title in this market, taking a dominant 35% share in Q3, according to UK researcher Strategy Analytics.
Of a total of 9.2 million units shipped globally in the last quarter, Apple TV was the closest rival with a market share of just 20% at 1.84 million units, and Amazon Fire TV and Roku are both trailing with 16% each. The remaining 13% is made up by other smaller players such as the Nvidia Shield and Nexus Player.
Google’s $35 streaming dongle shipped 2.9 million units during Q3. The connected media devices industry shipped a total of 53 million units in Q3, including smart TVs, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles. This is forecast this to reach 221 million this year, up 17% from last year.
These figures were compiled before Amazon culled Chromecast from its retail site, along with Apple TV which may yet have a significant market impact, but it does demonstrate the competitiveness in this market and how ruthless Amazon is becoming. We would be unsurprised if Amazon doesn’t consider scrapping the sale of Roku once it sees these figures.
Despite poor Q3 sales figures, the latest Fire TV from Amazon is a pretty capable bit of kit, supporting HEVC and 4K video at a $99 price tag. That sets it apart from both Apple TV and Chromecast. The Fire Stick (HDMI dongle version) doesn’t support 4K, but comes with a voice-enabled remote, based on its Alexa AI – Amazon hasn’t released sales figures for the Fire Stick and probably won’t until it dents the figures of Chromecast.
In September, the Chromecast updated version 2.0 dongles were unveiled – with the design changing from a simple stick to a round, colorful disk, to house new features such as an integrated HDMI cable. Chromecast stuck to the winning formula of using Marvell chips, and claims the 2.0 model is easier to set up and has improved streaming speed. It also added a smartphone app to manage content – opening the door for app developers. We look forward to seeing the Q4 figures in the New Year, we still expect Chromecast to come out on top.
A major contributory factor to the Chromecast runaway victory is obviously the price tag, a huge $114 less than the cheapest Apple TV – which now costs $149 for a 32GB model and $199 for 64GB.
Plug in pieces of TV tech will stay with us until the last non-smart TVs are thrown on the rubbish heap, but that won’t be for about 7 to 8 years, so the winner in this marketplace is likely to retain some level of function control for a significant time period in TV. Both Google and Apple have ambitions to supply their own OTT services in that time frame, Apple imminently.
Apple and Google may also end up killing off their own streaming devices as the two giants evolve the video viewing experience through their relative app stores and focus on a broader home hub experience.
Samsung remains the market leader in smart TVs with a 25% share, while Android TV has 9% with Android-powered TVs coming from Sony, Sharp and Philips.