Talking tech since 2003

For a while now, the Roku box has been an excellent option for those looking to set up a cost-effective home media system with access to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.  However, unlike other more popular products such as the Apple TV, the Roku has – until now – been marketed to what one could easily consider to be a “niche” market consisting primarily of the “geeky” types.  There was no wide-spread advertising for the device, and an individual looking to purchase one was only able to do so online.  Yesterday, however, the Roku made its official retail unveiling and is now available for purchase at more “traditional” retail outlets such as BestBuy and RadioShack.

In all honesty, I am a bit taken back by this somewhat sudden development.  You see, even with the new $99 price-point, the Apple TV (which offers a very similar overall functionality) hasn’t been flying off of store shelves despite being one of Apple’s lowest-priced products.  The Logitech Revue – a device that sports Google TV – seems to have done even worse after Google ran into a number of issues with their software backend, only to disappoint what seems to be a very small market of potential customers.  So, knowing this, why is the Roku going mainstream?

As much as I think the market for entertainment streaming solutions is over-saturated right now, I have to admit that the Roku has a few advantages to it.  With the price of just $79, the Roku beats the Apple TV by $20 – all while offering a very similar product.  With a focus on third-party solutions, the Roku also seems like a more appealing choice for those who plan to take advantage of Internet-based media to phase-out more “traditional” entertainment services such as cable and satellite television.

With this in mind, even though the Roku has been a “geeky” item for a while now I believe that the retail distribution of the device will give it more opportunity to expand by giving users that flexibility of enjoying cost-effective entertainment.  With the current state of the economy, after all, it seems that just about every device that offers a newer cost-effective solution is all but guaranteed phenomenal levels of success.

So where does this leave the retailers?  Needless to say, I think the retail giants that have opted to bring the Roku on-board will see steady sales of the device.  And for the Roku itself, I think that being retail-driven now gives it the credibility that it needs to become a more feasible competitor against items such as the Apple TV.

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