Roku Still Leads in Streaming, Google Chromecast Steals Second from Apple TV

As new players enter the streaming media category, some in the “old guard” are finding it hard to retain their once lofty market share numbers according to Parks Associates. The market research firm’s latest analysis shows that Roku remains the number one hardware vendor when it comes to streaming devices despite tumbling from a 46 percent share in 2013 to 29 percent in 2014.

Since last year, Roku has seen a few newcomers enter the fray including Google with the $35 Chromecast and Amazon with the $99 Fire TV. Amazon also started shipping the $39 Fire TV Stick to customers late last month, but we’re not sure that enough of those devices are in consumer hands to make a difference in Park Associates’ numbers.

Google is perhaps the biggest winner, going from a nonexistent presence in the market early last year to 20 percent in 2014 allowing it to capture second place. The strong showing from Google and Amazon was enough to erode Apple’s roughly 25 percent share of the market in 2013 to just 17 percent in 2014, knocking it down to third place.

ParksAssociates Streaming Media

It probably also doesn’t help that Apple has done little in the way of adding new functionality to Apple TV, and has only added a few new channels to the mix so far this year. Apple TV got its last full redesign way back in March 2012 (Model A1427) and only a minor cost reduction [for Apple] update in January 2013 (Model A1469).

Barbara Kraus, director of research at Parks Associates, also pointed to another reason for Apple’s decline: the lack of a cheaper, streaming stick form-factor. Roku, Google, and Amazon all offer streaming sticks that plug directly into a TV’s HDMI port for less than half the price of their full-size counterparts.

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Regardless of who’s winning or losing when it comes to hardware market share numbers, consumers are increasingly flocking to streaming media devices and using them to supplant traditional services including cable and satellite.  "The market is changing rapidly to account for these new digital media habits,” said Kraus. "Nearly 50% of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear, up from 38% in 2010, and it is already the majority for people 18-44.”