Roku is heading international, with its set-top boxes becoming available to buy outside of the U.S. for the first time in the new year. As always content is king, and the hardware will be nothing but an expensive brick without partners providing content.
Roku made its debut in 2008 as the Netflix Player before adding many more content partners and evolving into the rather neat little set-top box pictured above. In the U.S. there are a range of boxes available, with prices ranging from $49 to $99. International pricing has yet to be announced.
In many ways Roku was the forerunner to the current-generation Apple TV and Google TV. These big-name companies saw an opportunity developing to deliver video content via the Internet using a small, unobtrusive, connected set-top box, something Roku has been doing for several years.
But Roku isn’t standing still while other companies try to catch up. Instead it’s heading international, which somewhat signals a return to its Netflix roots.
Roku is breaking out of its self-imposed borders, announcing plans to launch in the U.K. and Canada early in 2012. This is a typical route for U.S.-based companies. Canada thanks to its proximity to the United States, the U.K. as it’s the gateway into mainland Europe.
In the U.S. Roku now boasts 350 channels, apps, and games. Which includes U.S.-locked choices such as Hulu Plus. In Canada and the U.K. the choice will probably be limited at the start before increasing as more companies hop on the bandwagon. Roku is promising region-specific content in its two new territories.
The biggest winner from this move into new territories, apart from Roku itself, will be Netflix. The company is already in Canada and is entering the U.K. in 2012. Having Roku boxes available to buy in advance of this launch could prove to be a massive boon and increase the number of people signing up to the service.
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