Amazon Preps Streaming STB

Dave Zatz —  April 24, 2013 — 14 Comments

amazon-settop

According to Businessweek, Amazon intends to take on the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and Roku with a streaming set-top box. Given Amazon’s failed bid for Roku, ever-expanding cloud offerings, and even their own Android marketplace, it’s not an inconceivable approach – yet we’ll classify this as a rumor until more concrete evidence presents itself. With the downward pricing pressure in this space, margins wouldn’t the greatest. But a streaming box could certainly help Amazon build out and reinforce their ecosystem… despite making similar apps available to other platforms. And Amazon has the luxury of bazillions of eyeballs without having to make room (or spend) on hotly contested retail shelving. As with their Kindle Fire initiative, we’d expect such a product to run a custom UI on top of Android (should this come to fruition, of course). Meaning, Amazon might become the first company to produce a “Google TV” with any sort of significant sales.

14 responses to Amazon Preps Streaming STB

  1. In other Amazon news, I was just thinking this AM I need to unload my Kindle Fire HD tablet. It sits on my nightstand and never gets used.

  2. Why? Amazon’s streaming video runs everywhere. The netflix model works. This makes less sense than the heavily rumored yet when you think about it for a millisecond completely nonsensical amazon phone.

  3. Dave writes:

    “With the downward pricing pressure in this space, margins wouldn’t the greatest.”

    Rodalpho writes:

    “Why? Amazon’s streaming video runs everywhere. The netflix model works.”

    Why the hell not?

    This is Amazon we’re dealing with. Remember the corporate DNA. They want to make money when you use the box, not when you buy it.

    Ship a box with negative margins, just to have another option for consumers, since Cupertino doesn’t want to play nice. And keep following the Netflix model on any agnostic boxes which will accommodate them. So, if you’ve got a Roku, you can get Amazon content. And if you’ve got an Amazon streamer on the cheap, you can get Amazon content. That way, they’re on two of the three, rather than one of the two. (Plus, I’m sure they’ll be on any ‘smart TV’s’ that’ll have them.)

    Given that Bezos wants to own fulfilling the bits, it’s smart to have a client of their own in every space, just to make sure folks always have another option to receive Amazon bits. (Same reason they brought out a Dropbox competitor, even though Dropbox runs on AWS. They don’t want to defeat Dropbox, they just want a client of their own in every space.)

    “In other Amazon news, I was just thinking this AM I need to unload my Kindle Fire HD tablet. It sits on my nightstand and never gets used.”

    Exactly. Their clients (outside books, a special core area for them), aren’t meant to be best of breed. They just want a cheap client in every space so they can’t be shut out. And just as Dave never should’ve bought a Fire, the folks who read this blog probably shouldn’t buy the Amazon streamer…

  4. I guess, but is it really worth the trouble when the roku only costs fifty dollars?

    I suppose amazon could sell them for $10 or something crazy with a prime subscription.

  5. Morgan Warstler April 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I think buying any TV at Amazon about to become this pitch:

    “DO NOT BUY the smart TV that costs hundreds of dollars more. Dumb people put smarts inside their TV, because you can’t upgrade.

    Instead buy this awesome 40″ 50″ 60″ dumb TV from x, or y, or z… with our $75 STB that attaches to back of TV.

    AND we’ll give you a free year of movie service when you when you sign up for Prime, so you shipping is free too!”

    ——
    If I’m making TV’s right now I’m nervous all I’ll be making is make is high end monitors with a TV tuner.

    Amazon touches most high end TV buyers directly during purchasing research.

    They can even use the HDMI pass through.

  6. I can’t believe that it took them so long to get this out. My network receiver can’t play Amazon music, so I need something like this to be able to play it. I know that I could use any number of devices to do that, including a roku. Without something like this, they don’t have a complete package.

    I’m still waiting for my Amazon phone and iPod touch competitor.

    It will be interesting to see how they use it. Making a copy of the roku is not enough. I’m sure they will have daily deals like they do with Kindle books. It’ll need to be more compelling than that.

    Oh, and Kindle Fires can be rooted an turned into Jelly Bean tablets, maybe you’ll use it more.

  7. I like my Kindle Fire HD tablets just as they are. I really like using the JukeBox app for my PCH A400 media players and being able to control my NEST Thermostat. Plus it gives me quick email and web access while watching the TV on a larger screen than my cellphone.

    Although I see no reason to get an Amazon streamer unless they give me one for free. I already have at least twenty devices that have streaming apps on them. I don’t see how Amazon can do any better.

  8. “I think buying any TV at Amazon about to become this pitch: “DO NOT BUY the smart TV that costs hundreds of dollars more. Dumb people put smarts inside their TV, because you can’t upgrade.”

    Amazon is far more subtle than that, and for good reason. Given that, above all, they seek to own both physical and digital fulfillment, they don’t want to step on competitors that use their fulfillment infrastructure.

    Just as Netflix and Dropbox are built on AWS, and Amazon has launched (minor) competitors in both spaces, they don’t seek to crush Netflix and Dropbox, either through pitches or predatory expansion. Similarly, they won’t seek to impair ‘smart TV’ sales (or Roku / Apple TV sales) that are built on their physical fulfillment infrastructure.

    Amazon really doesn’t want competitors (outside of fulfillment) to think of them as a serious threat. They just want to make sure their fulfillment services don’t get shut out by having their own branded clients available in every space.

  9. I’m sure the confinement of the amazon ecosystem will keep me from getting this. I just wish amazon would open prime streaming to Android. It’s available for Google TV devices only, but it’s on any iOS device. I can’t get it on my nexus tablet or my android phone. What gives?

  10. Morgan Warstler April 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Chucky, tell that to the music industry, Intel, AMD, Best Buy, etc. Amazon focuses like a laser on happy customers.

    There’s real consumer upside in moving the STB out of the TV.

    It even reduces returns and repair costs.

    We’ll be seeing this in auto industry as well. That smart phone you own is lots smarter than the $3K upsell.

  11. One possible idea based off something Chucky said. What if this box is in anticipation of a new feature from Amazon?

    Initially it only supports Prime while Amazon works on a deal behind the scenes. They then announce any physical DVD or Blu-Ray purchase automatically adds a digital copy playable through the Amazon box. It would work just like the new MP3 feature for purchased CDs. It would essentially be a form of Ultraviolet except one that works.

  12. “What if this box is in anticipation of a new feature from Amazon?”

    It’s obviously going to be an integrated 3D printer. Why screw around with same-day delivery for toilet paper when you can have instant delivery?

  13. UltraViolet already works doesn’t it? I enter the UV code from a BD at a site like Flixster. In a few seconds the title pops up on my VUDU account where I actually watch the titles from.

    Or I can just purchase a UV code and only have the digital version of the movie available to watch from Vudu or other vendors. I don’t see why Amazon would add something else to compete with UV.

  14. UV isn’t always that simple… I’ve run into issues where some services have a title and others don’t. Or one has HD, but the another doesn’t. Maybe it’s better now, I haven’t futzed with it in maybe 9 months – since shortly after Walmart’s bungled Vudu disc-to-digital launch.

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