Amazon has always seen value in the living room and while its early phone ambitions proved to be a failure, the same cannot be said for its home-based hardware, and especially those products more often associated with the living room, such as its audio and video offerings. For example, the company now has a number of speaker-related products and while they are more primarily designed to facilitate Alexa, they are also designed to double as home audio solutions for those who do not need too much power. The same is evident at the TV level with Amazon not only proving hardware for the TV, but also a whole TV-optimized operating system along with a number of TV-focused services, perks and products.
So while the living room is nothing new to Amazon, today, it became clear the company has now officially taken its living room game to the next level.
Amazon redefines its audio ambitions
If you take all of the announcements from today as they are, and at the singular level, you’d be forgiven for just seeing a number of new products hitting the online retailer’s website. But it’s the bigger picture here that is worth focusing on and the things that might be less obvious by just looking at one or two of the new products. For example, on the audio side Amazon already had its Echo line with the Echo, the Dot, the Plus and so on. But there were all pretty much individual units where consumers would most likely buy one or another. Today, the company announced a new input/output device, a new amplifier, and a new sub. Products which are all designed to work with other products. And yes, while not all of them need to be used with an Amazon-branded product, they can be. And that’s the big thing here.
Amazon is now making its home audio solutions a more fleshed-out and robust ecosystem compared to before when it was just a list of products. The sub, for example, works with an existing Echo speaker to give it more bass. Both of which can work with the new amplifier. All three of which can work with the new Link. It’s this wider approach which is Amazon’s real audio play, as all of a sudden, its home audio solutions are not the basic or entry-level products they once were. Instead, Amazon is now in a position to start offering audio systems which will appeal to actual audio enthusiasts and not just general consumers.
One of the big things in the audio world is the notion that separates are key to a clean sound, and while music playback has changed in recent years due to the devices we now use and the onset of steaming, the notion of separates still applies as much as ever. And it would seem Amazon is very much on the same page as everything it announced audio-wise today was an example of a separate. Albeit one designed to bring the separate mantra in to the modern age. What was equally as interesting is the Link, the Link Amp and the Sub don't feature Alexa. This is just as important as although they work with devices that are equipped with Alexa, the focus was on the hardware alone. Again, appealing to the audio enthusiasts.
Amazon no longer sees the TV as the main focus of the living room
Just like with its audio ambitions, Amazon today redefined how it views the TV and more specifically, its relationship to the living room. Now, it's no secret that the way in which people consume TV has changed, and the big box in the living room is no longer as important as it once was. But, that hasn't really changed how manufacturers make hardware. Your set-top box (STB) still connects to your TV, as does your Android TV device, Apple TV device, Chromecast, Fire TV box or stick, and just about everything else. They still all physically connect to your TV and in most cases facilitate the option to connect your other main viewing device, your phone, to the TV. So the focus is still on the TV.
However, with the Fire TV Recast that Amazon announced today, the company has technically decoupled the hardware from the TV altogether. You could buy it and put it physically near the TV, and this is likely what most consumers will do, but its location now is a preference, not a requirement. As while this is a DVR for recording and watching OTA channels, you effectively don’t even need a TV to use it. It does not connect to the TV and can literally be positioned in the attic if you want - which is probably not a bad idea considering it’s reliance on a connection to an antenna. Either way, wherever you decide to place the Fire TV Recast, it will connect and transmit the content to any device in your home that has a display, beit the TV, a tablet, a smartphone, and even the Echo Show.
Which brings us to the next point. The Echo Show. Amazon also announced a new version of the Echo Show (on a side note it has a built-in smart home) which comes loaded with a much larger display, better quality speakers that have been moved to further accommodate the growth of the display, and also a greater level of video and TV support. This is clearly Amazon’s latest answer to Google’s smart displays and like those Android Things-powered devices, Amazon’s Echo Show is great in the kitchen, the bedroom, bathroom, or any other room outside of the living room. While this is a second-generation device you can be sure Amazon is hoping for a much greater uptake with it, due to the now-greater level of awareness of this type of product, and the generally better product that it now is. Likewise, you can be sure those who do buy this product are likely to use it outside of the living room. Which means both of Amazon's main TV-related products announced today were designed for use outside of the living room.
To be fair Amazon did make a lot more announcement today than what has been discussed here, and they all tended to revolve around the home and new hardware. Which is further evidence of how Amazon is viewing the whole home now as a business opportunity. But that should not cloud what has happened today in respect of the living room, as Amazon has clearly changed its view of this room and how products associated with this room no longer need to be as reliant on the actual room they are designed for. In other words, when Amazon is looking at the living room now, it's technically looking beyond the living room, and like most things Amazon does, you can expect others to follow suit in a similar fashion in the future.