By 2019, the global installed base will equate to every household containing five connected media devices.
North America will remain top-dog as the world’s most mature hardware market, with Americans having more than 10 devices per household. But it’s hard to overemphasize just how ubiquitous and pan-regional the wider opportunity is, writes Merrick Kingston, principal analyst at IHS Technology.
As of year-end 2014, screened devices comprised just over 60% of the connected device market. By 2019, this share will rise to almost 75%.
The story of the device market’s growth is really the story of the smartphone’s tremendous ascent. As the smartphone base more than doubles from 2,6-billion in 2014 to 5,9-billion by 2019, we’ll see the ratio of smartphones to tablets increase from 5:1 to 9:1. The smartphone is the only media-enabled device available today that is capable of contributing such volume to the market, and precipitating such change in the mix of screened to non-screened hardware.
Samsung’s Smart TV platform is the one to beat, as of year-end 2014, Samsung’s global installed base of 63-million connected Smart TVs far outweighs  its nearest rival’s base – LG’s – at 29-million.
Traditionally, the Smart TV space has been characterized by its total mishmash of brands and proprietary platforms. With Sony’s and Philip’s adoption of Android TV, Panasonic’s gravitation toward Firefox OS, Samsung’s adoption of Tizen, and LG’s adoption of WebOS, we’re finally seeing the beginnings of market consolidation, and in particular, consolidation around software ecosystems that have existed for years, and that are well-supported by the wider development community.”
In many respects, hyper-competition has shifted toward the DMA space. The Apple TV remains the single-largest DMA platform as of year-end 2014 – at 25-million installed – but Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV are hot on its heels, at 13-million, 10-million, and 5-million installed.
Apple’s hegemony in the DMA space looks more uncertain that ever. Roku has been very successful in courting content partners and embracing an open SDK, Chromecast has been propelled by its near-impulse-buy price, and Amazon has successfully positioned the Fire TV as a value-add to its extensive Prime business. Ultimately, the future trump card in this market is likely to revolve around content exclusivity, and embrace of the pay TV ecosystem.
Device ubiquity is allowing the online media industry to establish an ever-larger footprint across the landscape of connected hardware. The installed base, and the extension of the OTT market’s reach across this installed base, is growing in tandem.
Device proliferation doesn’t take place in a vacuum, it’s a process that’s co-determined with the availability and distribution of media. In many regards, Netflix has become a microcosm for this process. In the US, across its own subscription base, Netflix now oversees an addressable market of nearly 300-million devices, which accounts for 31% of the country’s total connected installed base. This is an astoundingly large footprint, and as Netflix’s addressable base pushes toward 500-million devices by 2019, this share will only grow.