April 2 - Amazon announced Wednesday that it was making a move into streaming video, a space that's already filled with fierce competition. But Amazon's foray into gaming could set it apart. Lily Jamali reports.
With Amazon Fire TV, unveiled Wednesday, the company is launching the latest salvo in the war over your living room. Like Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku, the $99 set-top device streams video. But it's also Amazon's foray into gaming, and that's how it might be a gamechanger, says Wall Street tech analyst Rich Greenfield. SOUNDBITE: RICH GREENFIELD, BTIG RESEARCH ANALYST (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The thing that jumps out at you is the gaming side. I haven't seen anything that has this level of gaming built into it." Amazon is a late-arrival to the set-top TV market, Greenfield says it's not a zero-sum game: SOUNDBITE: RICH GREENFIELD, BTIG RESEARCH ANALYST (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There is plenty of room for all of these devices. I don't think this is about one destroying the other. Right now, I think there's a huge opportunity as consumers shift from watching traditional TV from set-top boxes to watching on these IT - internet focused devices. A lot of people can win." The company now sells competing streaming media devices on Amazon-dot-com. SOUNDBITE: PETER LARSEN, AMAZON EXECUTIVE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Because we're selling millions of them, we hear from customers every day. We hear about what's working and we hear about what's not working." Amazon exec Peter Larsen said Fire TV helps solve many of the issues its purchasers of those devices complain about... High on the list: search. This Amazon Fire TV ad pokes fun at the frustration of looking for content on other platforms. Larsen also said the device address slow performance and so-called "closed ecosystems" on competing devices. In addition to streaming Amazon Instant Video, Fire TV will support services including Hulu, Pandora, and perhaps most notably Netflix, which some analysts now see as less of an enemy to Amazon... and more of a "frenemy". As for that $99 price point - or 40 bucks more if you buy the game controller - Mashable's Lance Ulanoff says that's probably about what the devices cost. He says CEO Jeff Bezos is after something more. SOUNDBITE: LANCE ULANOFF, MASHABLE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "He doesn't usually make money on the hardware but he doesn't undercharge. He doesn't overcharge. He just wanted to cover his costs because more customers come in the door. Because why? What does amazon do? They sell stuff. Big online retail store. That's what they do." Ulanoff says just how Amazon's core retail business will be integrated is still unclear. SOUNDBITE: LANCE ULANOFF, MASHABLE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "One thing I feel like they really didn't get into is how is this an access point for the full world of amazon retail - they really didn't get into that - is that coming? because that's the next obvious step."