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Take that, Apple TV: Smart TVs twice as popular as dedicated streaming boxes

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14 percent of all broadband households owned an Apple (s AAPL) TV, a Roku box or another kind of dedicated streaming device in 2012, but 25 percent owned a smart TV with an embedded app platform, according to the Diffusion Group’s latest Defining the In-Home CE and Network Ecosystem 2013 report.

The ownership of Smart TVs has roughly doubled over the last year, with 25 percent of broadband households owning at least one Smart TV, compared to 12 percent in 2011. Dedicated streaming devices on the other hand grew slower, inching up from 12 percent in 2011 to 14 percent in 2012.

Of course, one should note that owning a device isn’t the same as using it. Only 69 percent of Smart TVs are connected to the internet, according to the report, whereas one should assume that most streaming boxes are connected (safe for the ones used as paperweights).

The most popular device for internet video remains the game console, with 62 percent of broadband households now owning a next-generation game console such as the Sony PS3 (s SNE) or the Microsoft Xbox (s MSFT) 360. Almost a fourth of the time spent with these consoles is spent on online video viewing.

Altogether, 56 percent of broadband households now have at least one TV connected to the Internet.

39 Responses to “Take that, Apple TV: Smart TVs twice as popular as dedicated streaming boxes”

  1. Nathan Banks

    If I get a smart TV and Roku 3 (to watch movies & TV shows) what can I get to use the internet to download and play games? Would I still need a service provider for that? I ask here because you people seem to have a lot of knowledge which I don’t have. Thank you all for responding to this. I dream of the day when I don’t have to pay monthly fees if that’s possible.

  2. David Dines

    Janko, it is really hard to look at the data and make a fair comparison. The data can’t get at how many smart TVs were bought specifically for the streaming vs how many people were buying a TV anyway and decided to get streaming as an extra feature they might like. So if a person is interested solely in adding OTT streaming (and have no real need for an additional screen), the choices are: a streaming TV, a Blu Ray player, a game console, a computer, or a standalone box like Apple, Roku, Boxee etc. When looking at this type of buyer profile, then the share numbers give a better indication of preference for the different devices. LIke others have said already, not all streaming devices are equal, with available services, user interface and remote controls, and not all connected devices are used.

    I have a Sony smart TV, a Samsung connected Blu Ray, yet I am considering connecting an old computer or buying an AppleTV because both experiences, while better than the Comcast guide, are still very awkward and disappointing that I use it infrequently.

  3. ohioCritic

    People buying the streaming boxes plan to use them. What are the stats on usage or viewing? People may also buy streaming boxes to add to a TV they may not need to replace.

  4. spmalan

    For picture quality and ease of use it is Apple TV. Plus you have i-tunes and wireless transmission of your burned videos, screen mirroring, and dual screen gaming with the iPad. But one of my favorite features is you can make it totally invisible. Put the tiny box behind the tv and program your TV remote to operate the Apple TV. I have other devices
    (Sony Bluray w/ streaming, smart TV etc.) but everyone wants to use the Apple TV.

  5. Jeff Nolan

    well you highlight the weakness on your own, people who have a smarttv are not necessarily using it for anything more than tv, and even when connected to the internet it may well be that they are not using for more than getting updates to the device itself.

    Having said that, there is nothing that would stop smarttvs from continuing their evolution. Not surprisingly, Samsung is taking a leading role here and their SmartHub system keeps improving, in our household we use it quite frequently to watch youtube, amazon, and vudu, as well as stream pandora. I would like more options and more responsive input accessories but I am continually surprised by how often I interact with the display via my tablet and S4 smartphone.

  6. FrankM

    An industry manufacturing choice does not equate to customer preference.

    People don’t “want” a silver car, but it is always the 2nd or 3rd choice in color. So they keep making silver cars.

    People don’t want squatty 16:9 laptop screens, but they don’t make 16:10 anymore. If you need a laptop, your choices are limited to what is being made.

    People don’t want a smart TV, they want a TV with excellent picture and sound. If TV manufacturers were so interested in combining devices, why did they do away with the cablecard slot? Why wasn’t the TiVo-branded TV capable of DVR functions if a storage device was hooked up? Why do the speakers on the TVs suck so much?

    Smart TVs suck for one main reason….. support and update length. Your TV will hopefully last 12 years or more. The APPs that can run on your TV may have a lifespan of 3-4 years before they are no longer updated for your hardware. Should you be buying a new TV every 5 years? Or should you be swapping out your $100 streaming box every 5 years?

  7. Ryan Merket

    Janko, have you ever USED a SmartTV app? They are about 10 years behind in UX. I can’t stream movies form my shared network drives, I can’t even search on Netflix… It’s a BAD experience. My StartTV is connected for updates, but we either use our Roku or AppleTV to actually use any true “smart” features.

  8. This post seems more designed to snub Apple than present the facts. I own Apple TV and I own a couple Samsung Smart TVs. I got the Smart TV thinking having it all in one would be great. But when I got the first one home, I realized there was no wireless built-in, I had to buy it separately, so off to Best Buy again.

    Once hooked up it worked fine and all, the picture quality on these new LED TVs is pretty nice, but the “Smart” software is a total piece of crap. Hooking into the various services wasn’t painless, and the NetFlix app is just awful. So, now I have bought an Apple TV to hook up to these Samsungs and circumvented the Smart portion all together because the Apple TV is vastly superior in every way. And when it comes time to replace the TV, I can just move the Apple TV to that TV, also I don’t have to spend any extra for a Smart version.

    Quite frankly, if Apple ever comes out with their own TV, I’ll chuck these Samsung TVs in a New York minute.

  9. Andrew

    PS recognized that my TV is also a smart TV. I would never guess. I use only Apple TV for streaming content. Neither PS3 nor smart TV are used to stream.

  10. Jeff Judge

    I’m just curious why this stat matters. Using either is a kick ass TV or connected device like the Apple TV to stream content is a good thing, right?

  11. SmartTV is useless, just like this post title.

    I have 3 Smart TVs in the house, one is even connected to the Internet …. I tried using the SmartTV features once about 2 years ago and never touched it since then. It’s useless and a waste of time.

  12. Unfortunately, I don’t think the conclusions are accurate. I have a smart TV and it’s plugged into the internet (for software updates) but I don’t use the “smart” features. I prefer to use my Roku.

  13. Bad article, another example how stats can be useless if they are interpreted by people that should not. If you take the 69% usage in consideration, you are almost at the same level as the streaming devices. The question is, which devices is used more for streaming?

    I’m not an Apple fan, had my iPhone and very happy that I moved over to an Android device, but articles like this is bad sensationalism. If it is an attempt to get more users to the website, you might have them once and then loose them forever, that is why there is a number of “tech” sites I don’t visit anymore. Tech sites are suppose to be neutral and report on things as they are, not this attempted nothingness!

  14. Sohrob Tahmasebi

    Still prefer using Apple TV over my wifi enabled smart TV. Much nicer UI and tight integration with the rest of my Apple devices at home.

  15. Laughing_Boy48

    So many comments I’ve read on Amazon (great for product reviews) for most smart TVs say those smart features are mostly useless or of minimal use usually because they’re not kept up-to-date. I’ve used Hulu, Netflix and Amazon on my Roku 3 and I think the Roku 3 handles them superbly. Same with PLEX on Roku. There’s just a couple of hooks that aren’t yet in place. No one yet offers a plug-in for my Silicon Dust HDHomeRun dual-tuner for Roku. Eventually I’ll be getting a smart TV (just as a matter of convenience) but will still continue to use a Roku. Certain smart TVs do support PLEX a plug-in so I may get a brand that supports PLEX. The one thing I don’t like about streaming boxes is that they don’t support an internet browser which to me is a huge oversight. I recently bought a high-end i7 MacMini and I will probably use that when I get my next HDTV to be used as my all-around media client.

  16. This is rubbish sensationalisation (if there is such a word!). Most people who have smart TVs didn’t buy it for the “smartness”, and even if they did, they would have realised how stupid they were.

  17. bucksaddle

    Wow. Never commented on any article, on any site, but this article, along with it’s headline is amazing.
    As other commenters have noted you can hardly buy a TV without it being “Smart” these days – so of course ownership is going to rise. And if the metric is based upon those users that have connected it to the Internet then I’m guessing that figure is about the same. The first thing a “Smart” TV does is ask you to connect it to your wi-fi – whether they use it after that is another story (as noted in the article, but broadband users is the metric being used).
    It’s just a nonsencical article looking for clicks with Apple in the headline (why not use Google TV)?

  18. My TV being smart is only because I didn’t have a choice. The smartness came with the TV whether I wanted it to or not. I did make a conscious decision to buy an AppleTV. The Smart stuff in the TV is awkward and generally unpleasant. Not so with my AppleTV.

    Because there isn’t necessarily a choice here of (dumb TV+ smart device) vs SmartTV, the take-away and value of the article/report comes into question.

  19. Yeah, but try looking at usage. Stats could just be all new TV’s have “smart” usage… doesn’t mean they are being used.