September 19, 2015 by Marc Cunningham
Update: This page has been updated to include the link to the CinemaNow promotions page. The promotion page has since been removed.
This holiday season will be over the top– of the set box that is. Amazon, Apple, Google and Roku will all have brand new devices hitting shelves just in time for the holiday shopping season. A new Apple TV is on its way, a new Fire TV just arrived on Amazon virtual shelves plus Google and Roku both have rumored devices showing up between now and October.
Apple just announced its long-rumored follow-up to the fourth generation Apple TV on September 9, with the device arriving on store shelves in late October. It’s the first time Apple will offer apps on the Apple TV along with universal search- a feature Roku introduced to users instead of jumping from app to app searching for a movie- a welcomed addition, as streaming services are added every day. Siri voice integration on the touchpad remote was also demoed. New voice commands are fluid and responsive; speaking, “What did she just say?” into the remote will provide a 15-second rewind. Siri has clearly grown up after getting the iOS9 treatment.
Days later, Siri received some competition from Amazon’s Alexa, who made the jump from their Echo product, in the form of an update to new Amazon’s Fire TV. Amazon also added 4K support, a feature missing from the long-awaited Apple TV update. Amazon has clearly taken the gloves off in the fight for who will sell the most streaming boxes.
According to research by Park and Associates, Apple and Amazon are almost tied for the bottom of the streaming market share at 17% and 14% respectively, both of whom are fighting against Google’s low-cost Chromecast with19% and various Roku devices controlling 37% of the total media streaming device market.
Roku devices are the most used among U.S. broadband households that own a streaming media device at 37%, followed by Google Chromecast at 19%, Apple TV at 17%, and Amazon Fire TV devices at 14%.”
On September 29, Google will be hosting an event to show off Nexus devices but according to 9to5Google, Google is also preparing an updated Chromecast with voice search and two new home screens for What’s On and Discover. One of the pitfalls of the Chromecast, in particular, is that it has never had all of it’s apps in one place making navigation very clunky and although an update might not make search easier it will at least use Google’s search capabilities to make a recommendation for you. Google may also be hoping to capitalize on what made the last generation Apple TV popular in the ability to stream music to multiple Chromecast devices throughout your home.
Rumors have been suggesting that a new Roku 4 is arriving soon and according to a promotion with Best Buy-owned CinemaNow it’s coming at the end of this month or October.
Unlike the just announced Apple TV, the Roku is rumored to have 4K playback support just as the Fire TV. It is also rumored to have a faster processor and more memory. The one thing that isn’t certain is the price. Roku’s current lineup runs the gambit between $50 to $89 while Apple’s new box will run $149.99, but the Fire TV is only $99.99, begging the question, how much will it cost?.
With so much to be expected of these new devices this holiday season, there will be lots of consumer interest with manufacturers duking it out for who can entertain the most households.