Roku and Apple dominated the TV streaming market last year, but now Google’s Chromecast has pulled ahead of Apple to become a front-runner.
Roku is still in the lead since it made up 29% of streaming set-top box sales in the first three quarters of 2014, but Google’s Chromecast came in second with 20% of the market.
This pushed Apple back to third place with 17% of the streaming TV market. Amazon landed in fourth place with its new Fire TV, which captures 10% of the market.
Google’s Chromecast streaming stick is much cheaper than competing devices, which could be part of the reason it’s become so popular over the past several months. But, since it’s less expensive, its functionality is also more limited.
The $US35 Chromecast is a small USB stick that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV. It’s currently on sale for $US23 via Amazon. Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, by comparison, both cost $US90, while the Roku Stick costs $US50 and the Roku 3 costs $US99.
The Chromecast connects to your iPhone, Android phone, iPad, Android tablet, or laptop (Windows or Mac), and lets you “cast” apps to your TV. It works with popular services such as YouTube, Netflix, HBO GO, and Hulu Plus among others. You can also mirror content from your Android device or Chrome browser directly to your TV.
The main difference between the Chromecast and its competitors is that you need a separate device to watch content and run apps, while other offerings from Amazon, Roku, and Apple don’t. Still, if you want to watch Netflix or Hulu on your TV but don’t want to invest more than $US50 in a streaming device, the Chromecast seems like it can get the job done well.