Roku, which pioneered inexpensive web video streaming devices, just announced that it would start licensing its software, and that router-maker Netgear will be its first partner.
While this may eventually get more people using Roku’s service than under Roku’s initial strategy — which was to sell set-top boxes direct to consumers — it’s obviously a move the company was forced into making, and wasn’t its first choice.
While Roku makes decent hardware, it hasn’t been a huge hit with consumers, and now the company has to compete with Apple’s new Apple TV, Google’s Google TV push, and more Silicon Valley giants moving into the industry. (Plus, D-Link, one of Netgear’s rivals, is about to launch its Boxee Box collaboration.)
Now it’s up to Roku’s partners to develop and market devices that consumers will want to buy. No disrespect to Roku or Netgear, but it’s going to be very hard for either of those companies to compete with Apple and Google.
Will this be enough to make Roku a big business? Or is this the beginning of the end? Weigh in below.