PlayStation TV, Android TV crowd into streaming-device market

Samantha Bookman, FierceOnlineVideoThe streaming-device market is looking pretty saturated right now, but there are still more device announcements to come. Sony said it will debut its PlayStation TV device on Oct. 14 in North America. And Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is still working on its Android TV platform, which will run on smart TVs--it hasn't announced a release date yet. But according to analysts, neither of these products is going to shake up the streaming market.

NScreenMedia analyst Colin Dixon noted that "the market is changing quickly and the advantages conferred by strong ecosystems are starting to erode."

Dixon was responding to an IHS report that said Google's Android TV platform could disrupt the streaming-device market. More than 50 million units will be sold this year, IHS forecast, with Apple TV (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Roku leading the way. Dixon was skeptical that Android TV could have an impact at this point in the game.

"The challenges that lie ahead for Android TV are considerable," he said. "The company faces stiff, entrenched competition in every area of the market. Major CE manufacturers are now acutely aware of the pluses and minuses of working with Google's Android operating system."

Further, he added, Google will be competing with itself, since it already offers the Chromecast HDMI dongle. "Though there are things that Google cannot do with the streaming stick approach, $35 is tough to beat," Dixon said.

A June study by eMarketer found that smart-TV usage will grow only modestly through 2018, while third-party devices will drive the connected-television market--suggesting that sets with the Android TV platform included will face the same tough market as other smart-TV platforms.

Roku TV Hisense

Roku is set to debut its own smart TV in the next few weeks, further displacing Android TV.

And here's the kicker: Android TV, by the time it's ready, will already have been one-upped by streaming-device heavyweight Roku. The vendor announced that within the next few weeks it will begin shipping smart TVs that put streaming first.

Sony's PlayStation TV is jumping into the same space and will be priced competitively for the services it will have: $99, the same price point as Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Fire TV.

"The PlayStation TV is tiny and plays Vita games," a CNET article said in a June preview of the device. "It streams PlayStation Now games. It can act as a remote hub for your PS4 to play in another room. And it might be the latest example of the next trend in gaming: the microconsole." The PlayStation TV is an update to Sony's Vita TV, which debuted in Japan in 2013 to middling success.

With numerous devices already on the market, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Roku's boxes and dongle, Tivo's Roamio DVR and others, the field is already crowded. And Sony has had a dog in this fight for several years already, thanks to its cornerstone PlayStation gaming consoles, which stream media quite well.

Sony is clearly hoping to differentiate itself in the market by focusing on gaming via the device. But Fire TV has an online-gaming component as well, and its device reportedly has a much higher memory capacity than PlayStation TV.

Further, set-top box makers are planning to directly challenge this segment by integrating streaming capabilities into their equipment. Tivo already has agreements with 12 Tier 2 cable operators in North America to provide Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX)-integrated DVRs. Arris is developing an OTT-ready set-top that it says will give subscribers access to several streaming services.

With apparently everyone and their uncle jumping aboard the streaming-device boat, Sony and Google may have missed out on prime opportunities to take the lead.--Sam