What Might Amazon’s TV Streamer Look Like?

Dave Zatz —  December 25, 2013 — 6 Comments

kindle-mhl

Having missed the ever so lucrative holiday hopping season, we stop to wonder what Amazon might pack into their forthcoming TV streamer (after failing to reach a deal for the Netflix-backed Roku a few years back).

First, given pulled and presumably filled job openings, one technology Amazon’s Lab126 Kindle division has been interested in is MHL - something we’ve seen leveraged by the Roku streaming sick, as means of doing away with the set-top box. Of course, the M in MHL is “mobile” and this could equally refer to the Kindle Fire line of tablets — either on their own or as a means of interfacing with a Kindle streamer. However, we fully believe any Amazon TV stick or set-top would act as an endpoint to the Kindle Fire’s Miracast capabilities.

Specific to Roku’s implementation of MHL, the company has backed themselves into a corner with that product. While the physical connector is HDMI, not all HDMI ports and televisions pack MHL capabilities. Enter Chromecast, which is pure HDMI – as such it requires a separate power source and a television’s remote control cannot be utilized. So Amazon’s ideal sort of solution might be a stick (or box) that incorporates MHL but can fall back to HDMI to ensure all households are covered. And I don’t think Amazon’s reported delay is a coincidence, given Google’s success in moving Chromecast sticks at a low $35 price point and seeing DIAL implementation spread to other devices (like TiVo).

Related, if Amazon intends to offer third party apps, there’s work to be done in regards to optimizing for the 10′ interface and providing app developers the hooks they need to produce a lean back experience. Also, on the software front, Amazon Instant is a given as the core video service to of course include Prime’s Netflix-esque perks. And we’d expect the Amazon-owned IMDB to act as a video recommendation and research engine, along with the requisite upcoming movie trailers.

What else might we expect or desire? Is motion control on the list? Is there even room for another entrant in this space?

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6 responses to What Might Amazon’s TV Streamer Look Like?

  1. “Having missed the ever so lucrative holiday hopping season”

    When you sell below cost and make it up in volume, I’m not sure how lucrative the holiday kangaroo hopping season really is for Amazon.

    (And, as always, do we have any kind of even vague idea on MHL adoption rates on new teevee sets?)

  2. If they “lock it down” meaning leave off competing services then they might as well not bother. I assume they’re too smart for that. But you never know.

    Right now Prime alone won’t sell it. Even Prime plus DIAL plus your music from the cloud and photos from your Kindle Fire isn’t enough. Make it the God box with Netflix and YouTube plus … And they MIGHT have a shot.

    If they sell it really cheap.

  3. “If they “lock it down” meaning leave off competing services then they might as well not bother. I assume they’re too smart for that. But you never know.”

    I’d be astonished if they were to “lock it down”. I’d strongly bet it’ll be just like Apple’s offering, in the sense that Apple has everything but Amazon, and Amazon will have everything but Apple.

    “If they sell it really cheap.”

    Is the Pope Catholic?

    The one thing we know for sure is that they’ll sell it below cost.

    —–

    FWIW, my theory on the delay is that they’ve been having problems getting the box to consistently emit that pleasant cinnamon smell…

  4. We enjoyed reading this article, Dave.

    Chucky, MHL technology can be found in more than 400 million products across the globe. Around 28% of TVs in 2013 have MHL and that’s expected to increase in 2014. A full list of MHL TVs can be found at:

    http://www.meetmhl.com/MHLEnabledProducts.aspx?id=5037

    -The MHL Team

  5. “Around 28% of TVs in 2013 have MHL and that’s expected to increase in 2014.”

    Wow. Quite a bit lower than I’d have thought. That’s too bad, as it’s obviously a wonderful concept. Thanks for the data.

  6. I suspect that the chromecast completely derailed their plans (and a lot of other companies too). At this point Amazon should be incorporating casting in all their apps and finding a way to differentiate their offering from everyone else. The bar has been lowered to $29 (the price of my last chromecast), at the top end, $89 for a sale Roku or AppleTV.

    The obvious strategy is to give the device to prime members and price it competitively to whatever it most resembles. I’m just baffled that it has taken so much time to deliver non tablet devices. They should have had a mini Kindle fire 2 years ago to compete with the ipod touch. In the end, Amazon only really cares that they run on every device, but Google has the same strategy and they have the cheapest device.

    The main reason I got the chromecast was so that I could play my google music on my bedroom receiver, the $24 netflix credit did not hurt. The fact that my wife can use it with 30 seconds of instruction shows that they nailed it.

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