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Amazon’s Fire TV Could Shake Up Set-Top Box Market

Amazon’s Fire TV Could Shake Up Set-Top Box Market
Eric Huebner

On April 2, digital-marketplace juggernaut Amazon debuted Amazon Fire TV, its new digital-television (DTV) system. Designed to compete with other set-top box services like Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku, the new service streams video, photos and music, while also functioning as a video game console.

In simple hardware terms, Amazon is miles ahead of its closest competition. Fire TV boasts 2GB of RAM, roughly four times the standard amount. It also has a lightning-quick quadcore processor, allowing the new set to run free of the lags that have occasionally characterized its competitors. Amazon has emphasized a streamlined and simplified navigation and streaming experience in its earliest publicity efforts for Fire TV, seemingly targeting providers like Apple TV, whose search feature is notoriously unwieldy.

In terms of content, Fire TV offers a similar variety as its competitors, with the notable exception of HBOGo which Amazon’s service does not yet provide. Outside of this one exception, the usual channels and streaming services like ESPN, Netflix and Hulu are available with a particular emphasis placed on Amazon’s own streaming service, which provides a library of over 200,000 TV episodes and movies.

Fire TV represents Amazon’s first foray into the already extremely crowded DTV marketplace, a market that’s still in its infancy. With 90 percent of consumers paying for some type of TV package, be it cable, Dish or DirecTV, major telecommunications companies still aren’t worried about the emergence of digital providers like Fire TV. These services simply don’t provide the same scope of programming as traditional providers. However, this is rapidly changing as evidenced by the swift evolution of Netflix from a website that streamed old, obscure films to a bonafide media giant that pushes out hit programming, like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” while constantly expanding its film selection.

With this rapid evolution in mind, Amazon’s entry into the market may ultimately benefit consumers by pushing its competitors towards continuous innovation. This should, in turn, allow the market for Amazon’s Fire TV service to continue to broaden, which could theoretically result in increased sales for the brand. It also represents an intriguing option for advertisers, who have yet to fully integrate themselves into this new market. As new services like Fire TV continue to arrive, so will new marketing opportunities.

[Sources: Tech Crunch, The Verge, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times]

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