I’ve been living with two media streamers in my living room for the last five years. But now that Plex is in the app store for the new Apple TV I can finally consolidate around a single device that streams all my favorite media regardless of origin.
Previously, I owned a WD TV media streamer to play stuff I downloaded off the internet. It’s like a Roku but with an uglier UI made by the cowboys at Western Digital. I also owned a third generation Apple TV, initially purchased to assuage my professional curiosity with AirPlay. Over time, the Apple TV became my family’s lean-back source for Netflix, YouTube, and then live NFL action thanks to the Game Pass channel.
As of today, the WD is gone — replaced by a fourth generation Apple TV running Plex, no jailbreak or hacking required. And that should worry the incumbents for whom media streaming has never been just a hobby.
Last year, Apple held 40.6 percent of the global streaming device market according to a Frost & Sullivan report. The annual update to its Streaming Media Devices study showed that the market nearly doubled to about 31 million units sold in 2014 thanks largely to a surge of about 10 million Chromecast shipments. Roku came in third with a 13 percent share, while Amazon trailed with 8 percent. (WD is lumped in other, presumably.) A Parks Associates report says that people spend more time on Roku devices, however, with 37 percent of the 2014 US streaming usage pie. Google’s Chromecast accounted for 19 percent of usage while Apple accounted for just 17 percent.
Parks Associates estimates that 86 million streaming media devices will be sold globally in 2019, whereas Frost and Sullivan is more cautious with an estimate of 40 million sales in 2020. Either way, those numbers pale in comparison to the 50 million iOS devices Apple sells every three months (the company has sold over a billion iOS devices in total). The new Apple TV makes it more difficult for Roku, Google, Amazon, and others to attract the attention of all those Apple households now that a single microconsole can play iOS games, download iOS apps, and stream any media you own, whether it’s over AirPlay, purchased from the iTunes store, or stolen from The Pirate Bay.
After a decade of accumulation, I’m happy to have one less remote control in the living room and one less HDMI cable connected to the back of my TV. And after four days with the Apple TV, it's now the default content source on HDMI 1.
Sorry cable box, but you’re probably next to go.
Five stories to start your day
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