Roku is wagering its strong branding and messaging of connectivity simplicity will resonate with consumers as it enters wireless home audio for the first time.
The manufacturer of streaming-video devices for cord cutters unveiled the Roku TV Wireless Speakers on Monday, a pair of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth bookshelf speakers the company said are designed to work exclusively with its co-branded Roku TVs.
It also introduced the Roku Touch, a Wi-Fi tabletop remote with voice control and playlist-launch buttons.
The TV Wireless Speakers are the company’s first products to employ the Roku Connect software and branding. First announced during CES in January, the Roku Connect software also lets OEMs build home entertainment devices that connect wirelessly to Roku OS devices and other Roku Connect devices within a network.
The devices will ship as a bundle—two speakers, the Touch remote and a Roku TV Voice remote—for a $199 suggested retail. The company will also offer $20-50 discounts to consumers who preorder before they become available on Oct. 14.
Roku, which partners with 10 manufacturers to build its OS into co-branded TVs, promotes its devices and OS as simple to set up and navigate. It intends to bring this same message to consumers for audio, with Lloyd Klarke, Roku’s director of product management, telling TWICE it’s expected to appeal to consumers intimidated by the complexity of A/V receivers or connected soundbars.
The speakers, which receive power via a wall outlet, are designed to work exclusively with Roku TVs, with setup completed on the TV display through the Roku OS. They also boast volume-leveling and dialog-enhancement technology intended to compensate for uneven sound quality.
The company first teamed with TCL and Hisense in 2014 for Roku TVs, and models are now additionally available under the Element, Hitachi, Insignia, Magnavox, Philips, RCA and Sharp brands in the U.S. (They are also sold under the Sanyo brand in Canada.)
Klarke cited data from IHS stating that one in four smart TVs sold in the first quarter in the U.S. were Roku TVs. According to The NPD Group’s Checkout E-commerce tracker, Roku was the No. 3 online seller of streaming-media players for the 12 months ending May 2018, with 16 percent of dollar share and 19 percent of unit share.
Audio has become a growing central focus for Roku, Klarke said, noting the company’s 2017 purchase of Dynastrom Audio, a developer of wireless audio technology.
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