Amazon already has your credit card. Up next: Your living room.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the world's leading purveyor of cheap wares and digital books plans on releasing its own TV set-top box sometime in the fall to go toe-to-toe with Apple TV and Roku. According to anonymous sources, "The box will plug into TVs and give users access to Amazon's expanding video offerings." Those include the company's "à la carte Video on Demand store, which features newer films and TV shows, and its Instant Video service, which is free for subscribers to the Amazon Prime two-day shipping package."
Details are scant, and Amazon declined to comment. Not to be deterred, however, industry watchers have already dubbed the rumored media box the "Kindle TV."
What would an Amazon set-top box offer? Expect "a heavy emphasis on video," says Tom Cheredar at VentureBeat. Like Netflix and Hulu, Amazon is making a concerted effort to produce original content, and "recently released 14 pilot episodes that are available to everyone."
Unfortunately, Amazon's initial foray into original programming hasn't gone very well, says Jonathan Friedman at The Verge, though in all fairness, "Netflix didn't immediately get it right either." Before House of Cards, the streaming service had Lilyhammer, which still hasn't caught on. And Hulu's original programming experiment, Battleground, has similarly gone unnoticed. That said, both companies' first attempts at original programming "were far better than the majority of Amazon's current crop," says Friedman.
But consumers might not even care — at least not at first. It's worth remembering that Amazon's long-term strategy involves selling hardware at steep discounts in the hopes of carving out market share. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he's willing to eat manufacturing costs in order to lure new customers into Amazon's media ecosystem. A low sticker-price matched with direct access to Amazon's library could be all a Kindle TV needs to move units.
If the reports hold true, it'll be interesting to see how Amazon proceeds, especially since consumers can already access its media library via other portals. As SearchEngineLand's Danny Sullivan points out:
But I have an Amazon TV box techmeme.com/#a130424p28 It's called Roku— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) April 24, 2013
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- An open letter to #brands about Gamergate
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The most sensible GOP alternative to ObamaCare comes from a Senate candidate who is almost sure to lose
- When Khomeini said no to Iranian nukes
- 10 things you need to know today: October 23, 2014
Subscribe to the Week