Market analyst In-Stat is questioning whether dedicated “streaming media player” devices like the Roku player, Boxee Box, and Google TV-equipped Logitech Revue will be around for long. The reason: IP-streamed video is becoming a standard feature of TVs and Blu-ray players. Passing fad? We think not!
The following excerpt comes from the introduction to In-Stat’s recent report, “Streaming Media Players: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?”
“The growth of ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) video services is generating a great deal of attention for consumer electronics products that can efficiently support streaming media services. One of these products, the streaming media player, has enjoyed significant growth over the past two years. However, despite the recent growth, the market for streaming media players is facing a questionable future…
Foremost among the challenges are how to competitively position streaming media player products against other products, such as connected Blu-ray players and video game consoles, that are more common in both consumer households and in retail electronics stores.
In addition, there is a longer term challenge of how to best internally position streaming media player products in a market segment chock full of virtually identical products. These challenges will significantly alter the shape of the streaming media player market, ultimately causing demand for products to decrease…
A key threat to the streaming media player market is the growing number of consumer electronics devices that can stream IP-based video. It seems likely that the ability to stream IP video will soon become a common product ‘feature’ [of products such as TVs and Blu-ray players,] rather than the central function of a device.”
Sure, TVs and Blu-ray players are beginning to show up with a few IP-streaming A/V apps, such as Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube. And yes, there’s no denying that Google (story), Roku (story), and Boxee (story) are aggressively peddling their wares to the manufacturers of these devices.
But does that mean the market opportunity for dedicated IP-streaming media player devices will soon dry up? Not at all!
The thing is, IP-streaming of A/V to TVs and other media rendering devices in the home is an emerging market, not a mature one. It’s rife with rapidly evolving technologies, media formats, protocols, strategies, services, policies, alliances, and more, and it’s not clear where all this change will end up.
Consequently, despite next-generation TVs and Blu-ray players being built with integrated media-streaming apps and capabilities, they won’t be able to keep pace with dedicated media streaming boxes, which typically come to market with beta firmware and get wrung out by early adopters who don’t mind putting up with a few bugs and frequent firmware updates, in return for being on the bleeding edge of new gadgets.
In short, the mass-market A/V delivery systems — TVs and DVD/Blu-ray players — by necessity will lag the dedicate devices by a couple of years, until the market matures. Which is probably a decade away.
From the broader perspective, what’s really taking place is a major transition beyond desktop PCs. We’re moving to a world in which powerful processors, broadband IP connectivity, and various new peripheral devices (video cams, motion sensors, and others) are being integrated into our home entertainment centers, with the HDTV, audio system, and universal remotes serving as the UI.
Fasten your safety belts — this ride has just begun!