Analyst: Amazon's Fire TV no Threat to Apple TV

Amazon unveiled its Fire TV set top streaming media box on Wednesday, and while it offers some features Apple TV doesn't, it isn't a big threat to Apple, according to Forrester analyst Jim Nail. Fire TV offers streaming video content from the usual sources, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, and it supports gaming, too.

Fire TV poses no threat to Apple TV, according to Forrester's Jim NailFire TV poses no threat to Apple TV, according to Forrester's Jim Nail

"[Fire TV] is kind of a run-of-the-mill, undifferentiated offering compared to those other guys," Mr. Nail told Marketwatch. Instead, Amazon's only advantage is that it already has strong relationships with its customers, and that could help sell the device.

He said,

What Amazon has that certainly Roku and even Google don’t have are the customer relationships and the credit-card numbers of those tens of millions of people who shop with them already.

What Amazon brings to the table with Fire TV is a small box packed with a quad-core processor, dedicated graphics processing hardware, 2GB RAM, HDMI and optical audio out, dual-band Wi-Fi, and a remote control that accepts voice commands. All of that ties into Amazon's own instant video streaming service, music streaming, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more.

That isn't, however, enough to set Fire TV apart from the streaming media boxes that are already on the market from Apple, Google and Roku. "Technology stuff has nothing to do with it," Mr. Nail said.

Consumers who are most likely to buy into Fire TV are Amazon customers that are already invested in the company's streaming TV show and movie offerings. Instead of drawing customers from other devices, Fire TV will bring in buyers that most likely don't already have an Apple TV or Google Chromecast and want to see their Amazon content on a big screen.

Instead of galvanizing streaming content viewers, Fire TV will be another player in the already fragmented market. In other words, Mr. Nail doesn't see Fire TV as anything to get excited about.

That said, launching the new device was a smart move for Amazon because it helps lock in the customer base it already has and it gives the company a presence in our living rooms.

Fire TV does have one advantage over Apple TV, and that's gaming. Amazon's box comes with gaming support built in, and several titles are already available. Apple TV doesn't support games at all, and Apple hasn't said if that's a feature coming in future updates.

While gaming may win Amazon some customers, Mr. Nail isn't seeing enough that's different in Fire TV to make it that appealing to people who already have competing products connected to their television. For now, he thinks consumers will stick with the devices they already have.