Late last week Amazon launched their competition to the Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and the Roku: Amazon FireTV. A lot of huge media companies are battling for the home entertainment ecosystem and Amazon is simply the newest player in the market. The Amazon FireTV costs $99, the same price as the Apple TV and $10 more than the Roku.
Unfortunately, all these home entertainment systems do very similar things, so even the smallest of differentiators is significant in this homogeneous market. Thankfully, the FireTV has a lot going for it in terms of differentiation. First off, although the remote looks almost identical to both those of the Apple TV and the Roku, Amazon has put a microphone in it enabling voice search on the TV. This is quite an innovative feature simply because scrolling through a keyboard on your TV via a remote is a very tedious method of typing. Secondly, since the FireTV runs on Android, Amazon is also marking it as a gaming device by porting games such as Real Racing onto the device.
To further polish this well-rounded home entertainment device, Amazon is also offering a gaming controller for the FireTV. It looks very similar to the controllers for the Xbox One and PS4, although in Amazon’s signature matte-black. Although this remote costs $39, it does give huge potential to the FireTV because in a market where even the smallest of differentiating factors makes a big difference, Amazon has a unique selling point: the ability of a customer to use this device as a gaming system in addition to a content consumption device allows Amazon to tap into not only the home entertainment market, but also the home gaming market. With this move, I wouldn’t be surprised if within a year or so Amazon was taking serious chunks out of Sony’s and Microsoft’s bottom line by eating into the PS4 and Xbox One sales.
I’m really looking forward to what comes of this little box. Considering this is a version 1.0 product from a company like Amazon (which has a reputation of having bad first products), there is serious potential as to where this could go. If Amazon updates their game library and gets big-name games in addition to the good content they already have, this could really be an industry wide game-changer.