Newly launched 4K-capable Roku 4 purpose-built for streamers, eschews gaming component

Roku's latest device, the Roku 4, has a number of new features: a new operating system, OS 7; 60 frames-per-second 4K compatibility; and a remote control with voice search capability, among others. What it doesn't have is added gaming capabilities, and that was done on purpose according to Roku CEO Anthony Wood.

Roku 4

Source: Roku

"Our attitude on gaming is that it's a feature, not a strategy," Wood said in an interview with Bloomberg. Streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast occupy a middle ground when it comes to gaming, somewhere between established high-end gaming consoles like Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation 4 and popular, quick-to-access mobile gaming apps, he explained.

Wood's outlook is reflected across the company, of course. Andrew Ferrone, vice president of pay-TV for Roku, detailed its priorities in a recent interview with FierceOnlineVideo. "When we really distill our business down there are three priorities: Great content, ease of use and value," Ferrone said.

The new operating system is "purpose-built for the TV screen," according to the company's official announcement. For providers, OS 7 includes development, billing and advertising tools.

"One of the key differences is that our platform, our operating system is built for the TV from the ground up," said Ferrone. "By doing so, it's a different problem to solve. The TV is not a phone. There's no reason that you should have the same operating system. So we're able to build much more highly optimized software run on lower cost hardware, but still deliver the same snappy performance."

As more and more traditional broadcast and pay-TV operators shift a greater amount of their content online, Roku is positioning itself as a first-choice platform for their apps.

"On the content side we continue to see premium content coming to OTT at accelerating rates: Showtime [Anytime]; having brought CBS All Access on board; obviously the Sling TV launch," Ferrone said. "If you look at Roku -- you've got ESPN, AMC, TNT, Showtime, CBS -- all available on an OTT basis. It starts to look really compelling. So the content offering is really rich."

Roku currently provides billing services and has enabled seamless signup for Hulu, CBS All Access and NFL Now, among other customers.

Roku 4, which retails for $129.99 and is now accepting pre-orders online, is the latest among a slew of updated streaming devices to hit the market. In September, Amazon announced a 4K-capable Fire TV and Fire TV stick, and Google updated its Chromecast with, among other things, a new form factor that helps it fit in amongst crowded TV ports.

For more:
- see the release
- see this Bloomberg article

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