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

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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.

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Amazon's Fire TV does have some features that set it apart from Apple TV, but it doesn't sound like that's enough to wow analysts. Still, it would be great to see Apple beef up Apple TV's capabilities. Competition is good for consumers, after all.



The deal-breaker for the extremely lucrative market of 800 million iOS device owners (+80 million Mac owners) around the world is no AirPlay mirroring of their Apple devices onto the big screen and sound system.


I think the Analysts are wrong for a number of reasons.  I wouldn’t state Fire TV will break AppleTV, but it will threaten to take some of the luster away.  Mainly if it works as well and supports DLNA and MirrorCast .  And I know there are AirPlay receivers (of some degree of workingness) in the Amazon Store.

It will reduce a decent chunk of the population that “wants stuff to just work” along with the “I have my own media I want to play without jumping through hoops.”  Which is a large chunk of friends of mine with AppleTVs that degrade into their PS3 or other gaming platforms to do DLNA of their movies and they hate having to do so because the UI and controls are crap as a media player.

As I’ve stated before.  I love my AppleTV except for the lack of DLNA.  I could care less for Flappy Birds or Minecraft Pocket Edition on my media player, but I’ll find out next week how Fire TV feels.  And that will guide what my future replacement of my 2nd edition AppleTV.

John Dingler, artist

Hello Jeff,
Your offhanded, pro-forma, unsupported conclusion that “Competition is good for consumers, after all.” has significant exceptions so it should not be thrown out there as if it’s a fact.

For example, fledgling Microsoft and early Apple competed for a windowing GUI, but Microsoft’s court-sanctioned theft of Apple owned OS was not good competition; It was bad because, according to news anchor Tom Brokaw, Apple died because of it.

Also, lying competition in politics, backed by unlimited private wealth, gives us bad politicians and bad policies.

Therefore, throwing out such popular urban fallacies perpetuates that fantasy.

Harvey Lubin

mouring: “As I’ve stated before.  I love my AppleTV except for the lack of DLNA.”

Actually there is no “lack of DLNA” if you own an Apple TV 1 or 2 (FireCore is working on a version for Apple TV 3).

It is easy to install ATV Flash (black)... even if you have upgraded your Apple TV to a version higher than iOS 5.3, it is easy to revert to iOS 5.3.

ATV Flash (black) not only gives you an excellent DLNA app called Infuse, you also have the option to install XBMC.

But even if you do have an Apple TV 3, there are still DLNA options that work if you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. These include Plex for iOS, XBMoteC, and Silver Screen, as well as others.


Harvey: Actually there is no “lack of DLNA” if you own an Apple TV 1 or 2 (FireCore is working on a version for Apple TV 3).

Umm.. “Lack of *NATIVE* DLNA” may have been a better term.

And your solution doesn’t work.  As AppleTV 5.3 has horked up Netflix support when it comes to language selection.  Along with other quirks with the fact that Netflix has improved integration of their service with set top devices.  So downgrading (as I did run this for over a year) isn’t an option at this point.

Using hackery 3rd party software or loading my video library onto my laptop or iPhone or iPod isn’t acceptable.  There is a reason why it is was on a DLNA NAS and not on my personal devices (re:  too large).  If I was going down the path using such hackery I may as well rebuild my Mac Mini and rewrite or replace all my code with XBMC plugins.  As it would be a better, more sustainable solution than a hacked, out of date AppleTV or some proxy media server.

The point I’m making is it shouldn’t be this annoying.  And if Fire TV makes good on the promises Amazon has made then they will start taking market share… Again, I don’t believe it is an AppleTV downfall.  I see it more eating from Roku as Roku is horrible hardware for those of us that have and use nice DTS stereos.  But it will draw people away.

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