Roku Climbing Way to Top With $40 4K Device, Google Assistant Capabilities
Roku is once again proving that they are the most agile streaming service company in the game with a handful of disruptive practices that are shaping the market.
It's not quite a race to the bottom, but Roku is launching two new 4K HDR players dubbed the Premier and Premier+, (priced at $40 and $50 respectively) to really deliver value to the customer. This is in contrast to the Premiere line's $70 and $90 price point last year, which seems to be the biggest difference between the two versions minus a polished set of software upgrades including Google Assistant and Pandora Premium support in November. That also means Spotify and automatic volume leveling is returning as well.
All of these improvements and price tweaks underscore Roku's pair of wireless speakers and a TCL co-branded television that has been consistently crowned one of the best pound-for-pound on the market. And that earlier mentioned Google Assistant partnership means all of these devices are about to be remotely controlled by one of the most ambitious voice assistants in the game.
So if you're keeping count at home, that means Roku has one of the most uniquely positioned home media packages for the mass market.
But the Google Assistant partnership says something bigger about the companies goals. Roku has already baked a digital assistant into their hardware, allowing users to search actors, genres, shows, and apps among a few other slick capabilities. And while it certainly got the job done, Roku's want to incorporate Google is huge. It proves that they aren't afraid of agnosticism for consumer wins and recognize that growth starts with the right partners.
On a much bigger scale, it seems like a page right out of Amazon's playbook. Make an affordable product, improve its capabilities, and continue to drop the price. And Roku has been feeling the heat from Amazon's guerilla take over of the streaming market. The Amazon Firestick has long been the standard in streaming boxes, with Roku finally cracking the number one spot in May of 2018. The missing piece really was having a dedicated assistant, making a Google partnership the perfect secret weapon.
Roku has always felt like a scrappy company but maybe it's time we start taking them much more seriously.