Roku, once the leading company in regards to streaming devices, has just recently been overtaken by Amazon, and the gap between the two is already widening. Amazon announced that it reached 30 million active accounts on its Fire TV devices in January at the beginning of the year, and they announced recently that the number of active accounts has actually hit 34 million. Meanwhile, Roku revealed that it only had 29 million active accounts at the end of March. It’s a sure sign that Amazon has taken a solid lead in the competition between the two.
Why and how is Amazon advancing beyond Roku? The main culprit is the vast range of their sales footprint. Amazon claims that its Fire TV is the number one steaming device in North America, the UK, India, Germany, and Japan. Whether or not that claim of being number one is actually true, there’s no denying that Amazon is selling its streaming device in a much wider area than Roku, which sells only in North America, some of Latin America, the UK, and France.
Unfortunately for Roku, the fact that Amazon is already embedded in foreign markets is quite likely to give them a lead that can’t be caught up to. After all, the Fire TV streaming device is already extremely popular in places like India and Germany, and in some other locations it’s the only streaming device available at all. This means that even if Roku branched out to the same areas, it would be unlikely to usurp the advantageous position Amazon already has.
However, it’s not a completely lost cause for Roku. In fact, the company does have some advantages. Unlike the Fire TV device, Roku isn’t built entirely around one streaming service, which is Amazon Prime for the prior. Without Amazon Prime, the Fire TV device isn’t nearly as appealing, so that means shelling out extra membership money, something not everyone wants to do.
Roku also has a much bigger presence in the smart TV market. Stats show that one third of all smart TV sales in the first quarter of the year belonged to Roku, at least on the US market. As smart TVs become more prevalent and more people begin replacing their old ones, Roku will have the advantage of their streaming service being built directly into their TVs.
Ultimately though, Roku may have no chance of catching up to the Amazon giant, which has been crafting a careful infrastructure that helps incentivize people towards their products. For instance, The Fire TV device is also one of the cheapest ways to get access to Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. And of course, it offers the quickest avenue into Amazon Prime and its many benefits. This layered system of products and services ropes people into staying with Amazon; it inevitably feels like they are getting more for their money this way.
Whether or not Roku will manage to stay on the market for an extended period of time with Amazon encroaching on its territory remains to be seen.