Let me open by saying: clear win for Amazon. Here’s why:
- Internet streamers are still a growing market, only present in less than a quarter of US households – not to mention International opportunities. Bringing *any* product to market under the Amazon brand is sufficient to move units. Amazon has an amazing channel to sell through, and numerous reports cite them as the #1 outlet for both Chromecast and Roku products.
- It’s at worst a good-enough product, at best it’s the most thoroughly designed Internet STB available on the market today. Unlike the first gen of Kindle Fire, which had to compete against a mature iPad, there’s nothing utterly amazing in the category to compare against.
- Supporting non-Amazon content is brilliant. I think they could’ve pulled off a winner just by supporting Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant Video, but now it opens up to anyone who watches any streaming content. Plus, just as Apple TV helps sell iTunes content, I’d be shocked to discover that FireTV households don’t slowly convert into Amazon content customers.
- I’ve heard some naysay (already!) about the price point, and how it should be cheaper than Apple TV to compete. Totally disagree, no reason to do this as there’s no other magic point under $99 other than hitting $49, which I don’t see a reason to do.
Other stuff I like:
- Voice search seems nicely done, especially in context with the mess of any 10-foot-UI experience.
- Gaming! Very smart to make this a core component of the platform – I actually hope this remains in the cheap, simple, and easy category of gaming. Not that I don’t love trying to push 17 buttons on my Xbox controller simultaneously, but I think “Big Gaming” is just too complex these days and there’s a latent opportunity for simpler stuff.
- Gary Busey
My two minor (emphasis on minor) missed opportunities:
- HDMI passthrough. The single good aspect of the original Logitech Google TV product was HDMI passthrough – it let the end-user connect the device to the fought-after Input One, and work well. While I know adding passthrough isn’t going to sell any more Fire TV’s, it’s one of those little things I’ve been hoping for.
- Not Free With Prime. Okay, this isn’t exactly fair to complain about, but I harbored this suspicion that Amazon would offer the Fire TV free with a 2-year Prime subscription. Now they always can just start a program like this, but I think it’d be a major wow-er out of the gate.
Let me close this this: building products is hard. Building really good products is very very hard. To get a 1.0 product out of the gate in such a strong state is impressive work, and while many might call it a “me-too”, I don’t. I think this is the exact right first step for Amazon in the living room, and will keep an eye on where it goes from here.
Prediction: Amazon Fire TV is the #2 Internet STB on the market (behind Apple) within 2 years.
Also, and again, Gary Busey.