Thoughts on a potential Roku IPO

Roku

It looks as though Roku has been investigating the potential for an IPO.

I’m sold on this device. Before I was an engineer, I owned an audio visual company in Manhattan, where I installed AV equipment for wealthy clients. Despite being able to purchase nearly any device out there, many of them chose the $85 Roku. Why? Simplicity.

Plug in a power cable, and HDMI to your TV, and you’re good to go. The remote only has a handful of buttons, and the device is always on, so it’s snappy and I never have to wait for the thing to boot up.With the recent unbundling of HBO from the cable company, it only adds fuel to the fire. Granted, I still believe this will be “HBO-lite”, with ads or some sort of limited service.

 

Apple TV
Apple TV

For years, people have been speculating that Apple will get into this game, but we haven’t seen anything as of yet. Still, the Apple TV exists, but it does come with a few shortcomings.

First of all, you need to be in the Apple ecosystem for this to provide any real value, as purchases and rentals are tied to your account. Second, third parties do not have the ability to create applications for the platform. So unless Apple writes your app, there is little chance of ever seeing it on there. So where is the value? At the same price point, I can have Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and a number of other streaming services on the Roku.

 

Simplicity is Key

The real selling for the Roku hit me when I saw not necessarily my clients in Manhattan using it, but instead when I first started dating my girlfriend, and saw that she had one for her (then) 5 year old son. As cable cutters, they needed a simple and affordable option to watch TV. This was a perfect tool for someone with a child, because there was nothing for him to break, it was simple to set up, and the could both navigate the interface.

What was previously only accessible to a tech-savvy and early adopter audience, is now available to mothers, children, and yes, even your grandmother, who manages to break anything that requires an internet connection.

I’ve yet to find a device as small, simple to use, and effective at attracting new audiences as the Roku.

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