And Roku, at the moment, seems far better positioned to offer a variety of choices. What's more, it seems like it's more interested in offering a variety of choices.
For example: Last week, Roku announced a deal with Time Warner Cable that will let the cable company's subscribers stream up to 300 live channels through Roku box. And Roku also added several new channels--including Fox Now, PBS, and PBS kids--to its 700-channel lineup.
Meanwhile, the last big content news for the Apple TV came five months ago, when Apple (somewhat belatedly) added Hulu Plus to its much more limited channel lineup. And the Apple TV can't stream content from Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, or numerous other services that Roku offers.
Apple's between a Roku and a hard place
The message is clear: If you want the service that's more adept at providing a variety of viewing options, you go with Roku. If you want the company that looks for all the world like it's working to bring you the best variety of viewing options a year from now, you go with ... Roku. The thing that the Apple TV has going for it? It doesn't seem nearly as lame at Google TV, but that assessment may depend entirely on your point of view.
This isn't entirely Apple's fault: The company is still wading through the weeds of legacy media companies that don't want to change to meet the expectations of 21st century viewers. And maybe we're spoiled: We saw Apple getting its way in the music sector and expected more of the same in other media--though books, like video, have proven a tougher nut to crack for the company. All of this could change overnight, though, if Apple suddenly signed a few deals with video providers and started really competing.
The problem is that there's already a company out there meeting viewer expectations, and doing it at the point when even my parents-in-law are ready to make the leap into a new way of watching TV. For the first time in a decade, it's not Apple leading the way. Who can blame viewers who make the Roku choice?
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