Back in 2012 Julie Uhrman founded what would become Ouya. I remember the Kickstarter campaign because it was wildly successful, drawing the third highest sum in Kickstarter history at $8.5 million.
The Ouya is an Android based “microconsole” that is actually good value for money at just $99. The concept of the device is actually quite compelling. It’s capable of 1080p video streaming, uses Bluetooth controllers and draws very little energy (4.5 watts at full load, 1 watt inactive – per the product specs) and has over 1,000 games available via the Ouya marketplace.
The trouble Ouya has had is getting market penetration and getting the next version of the hardware out the door. Reviews were lukewarm at best and sales have reportedly been mediocre in a market saturated on the video game side of the spectrum by the Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U and the set-top box side with the likes of Roku, Kindle FireTV, Apple TV, and the like.
However now it looks like Chinese mega-site Alibaba is bullish on the Ouya making strong headway in the emerging console market of China. Since 2000 China has had a ban on set-top game consoles, but that all changed a few weeks ago and now console manufacturers are salivating at a piece of the pie in a country of nearly 1.4 Billion people.
Word on the street is that Alibaba has invested $10 million in the future of Ouya. This is a very healthy boost to a company whose momentum has seemingly slowed while also being a safe bet for Alibaba. Let’s get silly and throw some numbers against the wall for a little fun speculation. Let’s pretend the market for a game console in China is 250 million people (roughly 18% of the population). Then let’s say the Ouya doesn’t dominate the market, but gets a solid uptake of 5% of the console pie. That’s 12.5 million consoles. To provide some context, the Playstation 4 is the top selling console in the world currently; since November of 2013 it has sold 18.5 million units worldwide. The Ouya with a very modest market share would be able to sell almost as many units in China alone.
Now of course the big names would want their share of the pie as well – but again Ouya stands to gain a lot in the marketplace with a tiny percentage. Now imagine that Alibaba carries the Ouya and they have an instant in-road to that huge market.
I actually would like to get my hands on an Ouya to do some testing with it, but they’re sold out right now. Not that I really have a specific need for one – my gaming and streaming needs are pretty well covered already, but it never hurts to have that one more gadget to tinker around with.
In any case it will certainly be interesting to see what direction this story heads in.