Amazon wants to take on Google TV and Roku with their own set-top box. Amazon registered a name, “Firetube,” and The Wall Street Journal says that they will have a streaming media player ready and available to consumers for the holiday season. The Firetube name has not been confirmed, but it does fit with the “fire” names that Amazon uses, namely the Kindle ereaders and Kindle Fire tablets. They also call their fork of Android FireOS.
The usual “people briefed on the company’s plans” reported this information to WSJ, so nothing has been confirmed by Amazon. The company is fighting with others like Google, Apple, and Roku for our eyeballs and space in our living rooms. Cable companies are also trying to maintain a hold on our televisions, but more people are cutting their cable and using Google TV or something like Google’s Chromecast dongle for their streaming content. Amazon has not made their Prime Instant Video service available on Chromecast yet, and this might be why. The Instant Video app is available for some Google TV boxes and ships on Roku units. Now that Hulu has added compatibility with Chromecast, along with Netflix and YouTube, Prime Instant Video is the one glaring omission.
Amazon may offer a separate remote control for their Firetube streaming media box, but they may choose to rely on an app that users download on their smartphone or tablet. Jeff Bezos demonstrated Kindle Fire remote-control functionality just last month. “If Amazon can produce a box that will have a truly complete package of streaming sources, that would be very compelling,” said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst. “This fits into their vision of dominating the competition in every area.”
According to inside sources, the Amazon set-top box will probably look like a Roku box and may even offer some gaming capabilities. Any services would be tied to a user’s Amazon Prime membership. The Amazon media streaming box probably won’t offer any outside services like Netflix or Hulu. Amazon wants users to buy into their ecosystem, forsaking all others.
There’s no release date mentioned, or any specifics as to pricing. Any Amazon set-top box would face stiff competition from Chromecast, Roku, other Google TV boxes, and even Apple TV and On-Demand content from cable providers. If you’re all-in on Amazon, this may be right up your alley.