Amazon Reportedly Working on TV Settop Box for Video Streaming

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Amazon TVAmazon is reportedly working on its own TV settop box for streaming videos under its Instant Video -branded service. Citing three unnamed sources, Bloomberg said the product is being built in Amazon's Lab126 division in Cupertino, CA, under the direction of several settop and video engineering veterans.

The settop box would allow users to access Prime Intant Video streaming content on their TVs. Prime Instant Video is part of Amazon Prime, and it effectively competes with Netflix, and to a lesser extent, Hulu. The device would also stream videos from Amazon's Video on Demand, an à la carte service.

The device is being planned for a fall release, and it would put Amazon in further direct competition with Apple—in this case the Apple TV. It would also compete with Roku, the Boxee Cloud DVR, and even Google TV's (largely failed) software.

Amazon recently announced that it had funded 14 TV show pilots and was in the process of deciding which ones get developed into a series. Netflix has seen wild success with its House of Cards original show, and Amazon would feature those shows through its device, as well.

Amazon is also likely to allow Netflix and Hulu on the device, though this could be through third party apps that would be available through Amazon's Appstore.

The name of the device hasn't been announced or leaked, but Bloomberg's guess was "Kindle TV," a name that is in keeping with Amazon's hardware strategy for the last five years.

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Spin: The question in our mind is why the networks and studios that have met Apple's desires in this same space with such resistance have so freely licensed streaming rights to Amazon.

Because it is merely one of many benefits of subscribing to Amazon Prime at $79, Prime Instant Video is a great value for consumers; but, "Great value" in this case means that that it lowers the perceived value of streaming video as a whole.

While the networks and studios fret about Apple owning the customer experience, they happily allow Amazon to train customers that streaming video is worth nothing more than an afterthought for a free two-day shipping service.

Nose? Meet face, and don't mind the glint of the shiny thing face is bringing your way at a fast clip. It won't hurt a bit.



When is Apple going to open the AppleTV to third party vendors? It seemed like that would kill all the competitors at a stroke and usher in a new revenue stream like the app store did for the iPhone. What’s the hold up?


My guess is better hardware plus timing of announcements are the holdup.

Last year they updated it to have hi-def 1080p video (vs 720p), which would be a higher priority first step in improving the ATV hardware.  AppleTV’s internal specs are a little behind the OUYA in terms of memory, and that will make a noticeable difference if you want to use it as a gaming platform.

It would also work well to announce video streaming services, which apply to the ATV, along with any SDK for the ATV. But whether that’s the case or not, they would more likely announce such an SDK at WWDC so we’ll have to wait at least until June.


It does seems like opening up the world of apps and a full honest-to-god webkit browser would suck all the oxygen out of the tv box ecosystem, doesn’t it?

Paul Goodwin

I opted for a top of the line Roku just before Christmas and couldn’t be happier with it. It connects very quickly, streams flawlessly, was plug ‘n play, and got Netlix as well as Amazon Prime Instant Video, and a whole slew of other stuff… A lot of other stuff. Even Time Warner is on it. I too wonder why the video networks resist Apple and just give stuff to Amazon. A this point though, IMO, Netflix is superior to Amazon Prime Instant video, but it’s still good. It does seem like Apple would sell a ton more AppleTV units if they opened it up to Netflix and Amazon Instant, however, that’s their competition, and I guess we’ll have to see what Apple’s home video strategy is.

Paul Goodwin

I should correct myself. The video sources certainly aren’t giving stuff to Amazon, but as you stated Bryan, I am completely in tune now with getting free video with my Amazon Prime account. It is a limited library though compared to,their pay per view instant video, but it’s not puny either.

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