Roku, the stand alone connected-TV device maker is poised to surpass Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOG) Google, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), and Apple Inc. (AAPL) as demand for accessing content over the internet is heating up. That’s according to eMarketer, the research firm that estimated Roku will finish the year with 38.9 million consumers in the U.S. using its device at least once a month. It marks a 19.3% increase from a year ago, giving the company 23.1% market share.

“As the only major market participant not affiliated with a content or TV device platform, Roku has used its neutrality to strike deals with a wide range of partners, including smart TV makers, over-the-top (OTT) service providers and social media companies,” said Paul Verna, principal video analyst at eMarketer.  “That expansive strategy, combined with the company’s broad selection of connectivity devices at various price points, has put Roku at the head of the pack.” (See also: Amazon and Apple Call a Truce Amid Video Rivalry.)

Devices at Nice Prices

Meanwhile, the research firm expects Chromecast, Google’s device, to have 36.9 million users in the U.S. representing 22% of the market. Amazon Fire is expected to come in at third place with 35.8 million users, controlling 21.3% of the connected-TV device market. A distant fourth is Apple with its Apple TV, which eMarketer is predicting will have 21.3 million users at the end of the year, commanding 12.7% of the market in the U.S. The firm is predicting Apple TV’s share will continue on a downward trajectory compared to rivals in the years to come. By the end of 2021, the firm thinks Apple TV rivals will add 20 million to 30 million new users while Apple TV will bring on less than 4 million. (See also: Apple Considers Streaming TV Bundle.)

“Apple TV has been held back by the absence of a compelling content offering, a lack of support for increasingly popular Amazon video content and a much higher price bracket than its competitors,” said Verna. “Apple TV devices currently start at $150, whereas Google, Amazon and Roku all sell streaming sticks that are priced well below $40.”

For 2017, eMarketer is forecasting that 168.1 million people in the U.S. will use one of these devices to access internet content, which if it proves true, will mark a 10.1% increase compared to last year. Smart TVs, which have online connectivity built in and remove the need for a secondary device, are poised to be the largest subcategory within the sector. eMarketer expects smart TV users to account for close to half of all connected TV viewers, coming in at 81.2 million, up 30.8% from last year.

 

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