Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Amazon Will Announce Its Own Streaming Device Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Amazon will amp up its bid to take over your living room. At a media event in New York City, the company is expected to announce a new gadget — either a dongle or a box — that will let users stream video to their TVs from Amazon's video library, as well as from services such as Netflix and Hulu.

The gadget will reportedly run on Android and could act as a gaming console.

The streaming device market is crowded. Amazon's gadget would compete against products like Apple TV, Roku, and Google's Chromecast.

So, why would Amazon take this plunge?
In his book "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," released last year, Brad Stone wrote, "Will Amazon introduce a mobile phone or an Internet-connected television set-top box? Yes, because the company wants to offer its services on all the connected devices that its customers use without having to rely entirely on the hardware of its chief competitors."
The over-arching philosophy for Amazon is to create an "everything company." To achieve that goal, it needs a complete top-to-bottom system to create media and distribute it to customers. By releasing its own streaming device, Amazon closes the gap between users' computers and TVs without funneling money to Roku or Chromecast.

The company has successfully kept a lid on the project, leaving everyone guessing about key details like the actual shape of the physical device — but there have nonetheless been enough hints to give us an idea what Amazon’s new hardware product will do, and how the company might use it to fight for a place in our living rooms.

Amazon sent out a press invite last week, promising to give journalists “an update to our video business.” The invite image featured a couch and a bowl of popcorn, making it all but clear that this was about the TV, and not Amazon’s mobile video apps. All that was really missing was a remote control.

What we know: Android and third-party appsHere’s what we know so far about the device that Amazon is set to announce:
It’s based on Amazon Common OS, which is the forked version of Android that also powers Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, and that will be used for future hardware products.
It will feature Amazon’s Prime Instant video service front and center, but also include a number of third-party apps, including apps for Netflix, Hulu and other big media services. However, there likely won’t be an official YouTube app at launch.

However, there have also been reports that Amazon may sell a streaming dongle that more closely resembles Google’s Chromecast than Roku’s set-top box.

Amazon has also been developing a wireless gaming controller that could potentially be used in conjunction with the TV streamer, but it’s also possible that Amazon is developing a separate device that primarily targets gamers with a cloud-based gaming service.

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