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Roku gets into streaming stick tussle with Google

AP, SAN FRANCISCO

Roku is getting into an Internet video-streaming stick fight with Google’s Chromecast.

Like the similarly shaped Chromecast, Roku’s thumb-sized device plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and feeds Internet video through a Wi-Fi connection.

The Roku device, announced on Tuesday, sells for US$50 compared with US$35 for the Chromecast. The low price and Google brand cachet have made Chromecast popular since its release in summer last year.

Google has not divulged Chromecast sales, but the stick ranks as the second-most popular electronics item on Amazon.com. Only Amazon.com’s own Kindle Paperwhite e-reader outsells the Chromecast in the site’s electronic section.

Some of the Chromecast’s sales may have come at the expense of Roku’s line-up of set-top boxes for showing Internet video.

The latest box, the Roku 3, sells for US$99 and ranks fifth in Amazon.com’s electronics sales.

Overall, Roku Inc says it has sold more than 8 million video-streaming devices since its first box hit the market nearly six years ago.

The privately held company does not disclose its financial results.

Roku has been selling another video-streaming stick since 2012, but that device only works on TVs with mobile high-definition, or MHL.

TVs with an MHL port are still a specialty item.

Virtually all TVs sold during the past few years have an HDMI outlet, widening the appeal of the new streaming stick.

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