Amazon Just Unveiled A New TV Streaming Stick, And It’s Cheaper Than Roku’s

27 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon Whips Out TV Stick Against Google’s Chromecast.

Priced at $39 (but on sale for $19 over the next two days), the Fire TV Stick packs better hardware than the Google dongle: a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of integrated storage, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi.

Amazon.com, after debuting its first Internet set-top this spring, is now going after Google’s low-cost Chromecast with its own $39 stick-based streaming adapter for HDTVs. The 52-week stock low precipitated by its Q3 earnings has been well reported, with losses generally explained by Amazon as a function of it being in “investment mode.” Fair enough.

Today, Amazon is bringing the same experience customers love about Amazon Fire TV—ease of use, great performance, and vast selection—to a smaller and even more affordable device. Amazon says you can use your phone as a remote with voice search, too, although unlike with the regular Fire TV, the bundled remote doesn’t have voice input capabilities. Amazon claims that the Stick is four times as powerful than Google’s Chromecast, with twice as much memory, and four times as much internal storage. Amazon disclosed a $170 million charge for “inventory evaluation and supplier commitment cost” for the Fire Phone flop, but what was the cost in terms of consumers’ confidence in the brand? The number of video services and games available on Amazon Fire TV has tripled in just seven months, with more services and games being added every week.

Amazon says “eligible customers” get a free one-month Prime trial with the purchase of a Fire TV Stick—and the trial entitles them to the $20 discount. You can also rent or purchase over 200,000 movies and TV episodes from Amazon Instant Video, which has the world’s largest selection of videos to rent or buy, including new releases and blockbusters. We speak several times a day under ordinary circumstances, so the Fire’s less-than-optimal performance was disruptive to my routine and eroded my affinity for Brand Amazon.

Which means, a user will get access to Prime Streaming in addition to streaming services including YouTube, Hulu, HBO GO, Pandora, Watch ESPN among others. The Fire’s inability to accommodate a required parking app was its death knell for my friend, requiring a highly inconvenient phone switch out and my one-degree of separation with that future Harvard Business School case study ended in less than a week.

Those include: Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Twitch, Showtime Anytime, Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, Vevo, Plex, A&E, PBS, PBS Kids, Watch Disney Channel and YouTube. Watch on hundreds of devices—When you buy a movie or TV show on Amazon, you can watch it on hundreds of devices, including iOS, Android, and Fire OS devices. The obvious logic is hardware is a good bet for Amazon because it’s a complement to its content offerings, including movies, television and video games.

Customers with a Fire HDX tablet or Fire phone can also use the Mayday button to receive 24×7, free, live, on-device tech support for all their Amazon devices. After my very limited and extremely negative experience of Fire phone by proxy, I would never buy or gift hardware from Amazon (even a Kindle, with which plenty of confidants seem satisfied).

Free Month of Amazon Prime—Amazon continues to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to bring Prime members new movies, TV shows, songs, and books to enjoy at no additional cost. For $99 annual membership (up from $79 last year), Amazon Prime means free one-day delivery of most every purchase on products ranging from printer ink to leather boots. In fact, Amazon’s original programming, more specifically the critically acclaimed hit Transparent, was one of the few positives of Q3 earnings call last week.

But even the Amazon executive team could have cheered themselves up with a Transparent binge, with inspired performances from Jeffrey Tambor (even better than in Arrested Development, if that’s possible) and Melora Hardin (Jan from The Office). Fear not, however, because Amazon’s video library can be enjoyed from the Amazon Video App downloaded to any tablet or phone, Mac or PC, Google Chrome or any Smart TV…no Amazon hardware required. Amazon’s first brick-and mortar-store is reported to open in New York City soon, receiving much attention and on trend for pure-play digital retailers offering a venue for convenient customer pick-ups and returns. The company is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. A retail store offers Amazon an environment to test potential offerings before national launch (perhaps avoiding a Fire phone-type catastrophe of the future?), and could showcase big-ticket items consumers are weary to purchase without hands-on experience and expert advice.

Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire phone, Fire tablets, and Fire TV are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. Though Amazon Fresh may make sense for a very heavy shopper, the latter seems to gives the buyer dramatically more flexibility and a wider array of choices. Amazon is certainly not a company to be dismissed, but with some highly visible misses in the rear-view mirror, consumer satisfaction has never been more important to their ongoing success.

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