Smartphones? Tablets? Get The Original TV Device: A Remote Control

We may like lots of TV/video devices -- but for the big screen, we prefer an old-school TV remote control, according to Roku.

“A lot of the consumer feedback we have is: People really, really want a remote,” Roku Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Anderson toldVariety.

Roku competitor Chromecast relies on smartphone or tablet apps to control TV set playback of content grabbed from Netflix, YouTube and personal media.  Roku provides the app option, via a Streaming Stick that plugs into the back of HDTVs, but also sells the other piece of portable technology that consumers want –a TV remote.

Consumer entertainment behavior must have some inherent DNA attached. In this case, it comes from the wireless TV remotes that first became popular in the early 1960s. We can’t seem to shake the comfort level of that genetic heritage.



Cool smartphone devices?  Fantasies about them started popping up at around the same time as TV remotes. In the mid-'60s, “Star Trek” flashed those cool-looking “communicator” devices.

What does all this tell us? For starters, we want to keep some personal devices -- and their functions -- separate from others.  Second, we have an ease with the TV remote and its functions; virtually everyone can use one with little or no instruction.

Futurists might say consumers are sometimes slow to move at the same pace as technology. Many say products like Chromecast and Streaming Stick are only transitional products. The moderate price for both products -- Roku’s Streaming Stick at under $50 and Chromcast at $25-- speak to this.

It seems that electronic manufacturers and consumers are waiting for more seamless video functions -- perhaps for Internet-delivered apps to become more prevalent on set-top boxes -- or until the day when set-top boxes aren’t even needed for big-screen TVs.

Right now, research has shown that while smart TV owners have some ability to get video apps, they don’t really use them because of clunky functionality.

So we are left with one of the original personal hand-held technologies -- still in favor after 50 years of existence.

2 comments about "Smartphones? Tablets? Get The Original TV Device: A Remote Control".
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  1. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, March 5, 2014 at 3:51 p.m.

    Smart TV remotes are NOT rocket science. I use mine all the time to get to Netflix, Pandora, Roku etc. You do not have to be Einstein to figure it out. Who wastes their time watching tv commercials when you have all this technology, devices, apps, tablets and remotes to avoid them. Keep throwing more money (due to higher cpms) at lower ratings (fact) year after year advertisers.

  2. Carri Bugbee from Big Deal Digital, March 5, 2014 at 5:35 p.m.

    People THINK they want a remote until they actually try to navigate a Roku or SmartTV. It's painful and time-consuming.

    Now that TVs and related peripherals are actually computers, you need much more sophisticated input devices. We don't ever hear people say they wish they had a remote to watch videos on their computers. I suspect respondents who say they prefer remotes haven't spent much time with the latest TV technologies.

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