When Apple and Google made big moves into the “digital living room” this year, it made sense to assume that business would become a lot harder for Roku.The Silicon Valley-based company has been selling inexpensive web TV set-top boxes since 2008, but isn’t a household name, and had just gotten two huge new competitors.
But for now at least, Roku seems to be on solid footing, and is basically doubling in size on a year-over-year basis.
Instead of taking a big hit, Roku sales actually doubled when the new Apple TV came out, Roku CEO Anthony Wood tells us, because Apple helped bring a lot of new attention and awareness to the category. And Google TV is not proving itself to be a worthy competitor yet.
Meanwhile, Roku is expecting to sell its 1 millionth box by the end of this year, Wood tells us. Its 2010 revenues will surpass $50 million, and the company expects to top $100 million in sales next year.
Today, as last-minute Christmas shoppers flock to Amazon, Roku is placed high on its list of the best-selling electronic devices. (Amazon represents about 25% of Roku’s sales, according to Wood.)
The $80 Roku XD streaming player is #9 on Amazon’s best-selling gadgets list, while its $100 XDS player (more features) is #11. Roku’s low-end “HD” player is #42.
Meanwhile, the $100 Apple TV, which is backordered at Amazon, is #23. Logitech’s Google TV box is #110. And the other buzzy competitor, the $200 Boxee Box by D-Link, is #171.
For die-hard Apple fans, Apple TV might be the best product, Wood concedes. But for everyone else, you can get similar features from Roku for $60, and more features than Apple TV — including 1080p output — for $99.
The industry could get more competitive for Roku next year. We expect Apple to launch an App Store for Apple TV, which would bring along many more content sources, more games, and more attention to the Apple TV. By then, Google might have a stronger strategy for Google TV. And Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is catching on as an entertainment device.
But Wood tells us that Roku will counter with broader retail distribution, more products via licensing deals (such as the new Netgear Roku device), and more channels, bringing more content to its devices.
While we don’t expect Roku to dominate the industry, there could easily be room for the company to grow, as Internet TV streaming continues to become more mainstream. And eventually, that might be valuable enough for a big consumer electronics company — or big digital media distributor, like Amazon — to want to own.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.