What will TVs in the future look like? According to the founder and CEO of Roku, they’ll be smart screens that seek out content and provide it in a simple-to-use interface. Speaking to The Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel, Anthony Wood outlined his vision for the future of television at the Collision conference in New Orleans Tuesday.
Even though Roku is likely associated in most people’s minds as a device you plug into the TV, Wood clearly has a different vision for the company’s future. Instead, TV makers will build in the Roku software into their sets, so consumers don’t have to buy any extra dongles or boxes.
Initially, Wood thought that future TVs would be nothing but dumb monitors, ready to hook up to smart boxes. “You’d think that’s the way it is, but that’s not the way it is!” he said. While the general TV market has stayed flat, smart TVs are growing. In a few years time, Wood predicts, every TV will be powered by a “smart” operating system like Roku.
“TVs are gonna win. The consumers like convenience,” Wood said.
Wood’s comments go against the vision companies like Apple or Amazon, who want to sell consumers a box for their simple monitor. Patel asked Wood whether people would end up buying one of these Roku-powered TVs and plug in something like the Apple TV to add in more services. “Why would they do that?” Wood asked.
There are currently 60 Roku TVs on the market, from five different manufacturers. The Roku OS, Wood explained, runs half on the TV and half in the cloud. In the future, consumers may have to upgrade their TVs like they do with smartphones, which could get costly. Wood, however, dismissed the inconvenience behind that by saying you could buy a Roku TV for $125 in the Black Friday sales from Wal-Mart.
Expect a lot more advertisements in this future, however. Wood noted that its ad partnerships with companies like Amazon and Hulu have proven particularly lucrative. As anyone with a Roku box today knows well, companies pay to “skin” the Roku home interface regularly, with a recent campaign from Hulu making customers’ home screens look like Jerry’s apartment from Seinfeld. If your whole TV is a Roku, you won’t be able to unplug your box to hide from ads of this style, which are less delightful – a Friends full-screen takeover, for instance.
Also expect Roku to continue working on its interface. Wood said that the company could do more to help consumers find content from other apps. When it does come, though, Roku may come one step closer to total TV dominance.
“The streaming revolution is going to continue at full force,” Wood said.