Roku is facing stiff competition from all sides. Not only are there challenges from Apple TV and Boxee in this space, but television makers are increasingly doing their level best to make a separate Roku box unnecessary with Smart TVs and even Smart TV software built into receivers — and Google TV may yet be waiting in the wings to try to mount a comeback. The newly announced Roku Streaming Stick should help Roku in its quest to stay in the connected TV game, but there are some things that are outside the company's ability to control: the content providers Roku depends on to deliver video.

Roku CEO Anthony Wood told GigaOM that the company missed its own sales estimates for 2011, selling 2.5 million devices instead of 3 million. Wood said he was "still very happy" with that, but rather than citing all the big-name competition Wood pointed a finger at Netflix as one of the reasons for slower sales. Netflix has had what can only charitably be called a "tumultuous year;" a more apt description would be "bad." Not only did poorly-explained price changes and even more poorly-executed corporate strategy hurt its image, but subscriber numbers have been dropping. Maybe we'll see Netflix's new original content deals turn things around in 2012, but even if it does Roku will still have its work cut out for it against the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony, Apple, and plenty of others.