Instead of trying to win the war for controlling your TV, Roku now wants to be your TV. Partnering with TCL and Hisense, Roku will release the Roku TV later this year, which basically takes set-top box software and put it into smart television sets, with some added features to help you manage how you use your TV. According to Jim Funk, Roku's Senior Vice President of Product, the Roku TVs will have a similar UI to the Roku 3, with added controls that the company is hoping will be the easiest way for you to access everything in your TV, including gaming consoles, cable, on-demand movies, and special channels.
Roku's getting help with hardware to focus on software
The first six models of the Roku TV are set to be available this fall, and will be manufactured exclusively by TCL and Hisense wtih screen sizes ranging from 32 to 55 inches. Both companies are in the top five global manufacturers of smart TVs, making them natural choices for Roku's initial dive into smart TV hardware. Eventually other TV manufacturers will be able to use the Roku TV and remote control design and software to make their own Roku televisions.
It's not a huge surprise to see Roku getting into television sets, especially after the company raised over $60 million in funding in earlier 2013 and started talking with OEMS about Roku-ready devices. The strategy has always been the same: get the Roku streaming platform on as many smart TVs as possible. But now Roku is going about it in a slightly different way than expected, using manufacturers like TCL and Hisense to take on the hardware heavy-lifting. This lets Roku focus on perfecting the smart TV experience from within the screen, and ultimately winning your living room with the easiest and most enjoyable service.