Roku unveiled its new Internet video streaming device Streaming Stick that costs only $50. It bears more than a passing resemblance to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Chromecast. They both are tiny, thumb-sized devices, are plugged into your TV’s HDMI port and stream Internet video through a WiFi connection. With this stick, Roku has tried to take on Chromecast. However, Chromecast is cheaper than Roku’s Streaming Stick at just $35. Chromecast, which was launched last summer, has grown very popular, thanks to its low price and Google brand.
Pre-orders begin for Roku’s new stick
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) never revealed the number of Chromecast units sold. But it’s the second most popular product on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) in the electronics category. Only Amazon’s own Kindle Paperwhite is ahead of Chromecast. Sales of the Google stick have hurt Roku’s line-up of set-top boxes. The Saratoga, California-based company’s latest set-top box Roku 3 is the fifth most popular electronics item on Amazon.
Roku previously launched a video streaming stick in 2012. But it works on only those TVs that have mobile high-definition (MHL). MHL ports are still very rare. Almost all TV sets sold today have an HDMI port. So, Roku’s latest Streaming Stick will have a wider appeal compared to its predecessor. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and many other online retailers have started taking pre-orders for the new device.
Roku relying on its app library
Roku’s latest stick has a higher price than Chromecast. But it can be justified by the sheer number of apps Roku offers. It has close to 1,200 channels in its library including Amazon Instant, Netflix, HBO Go, Pandora, PBS, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Anytime, Spotify, MLB TV, etc. It also offers apps from the NBA and Major League Baseball.
On the other hand, Chromecast shows 14 apps on its site including Hulu Plus, Netflix, and HBO Go. But one big area where Chromecast is ahead of Roku is Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s own media ecosystem. If you want to stream media from Google Music, Movies and Google Play TV, Chromecast is the way to go.