Like the Fire Phone, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick May Be Too Little, Too Late

27 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon Fire TV Stick beats Google’s Chromecast in memory and storage to soup up your TV.

Amazon unveiled a media-streaming device that plugs into a TV set to let users browse video and music from Netflix, Hulu and Pandora Media, seeking to extend its reach in customers’ digital lives. Amazon just introduced Fire TV Stick, a $39 video-streaming HDMI device that goes up against Google ‘s $35 Chromecast and Roku’s $50 Streaming Stick.

The stick will cost just $39, cheaper than Roku’s $49.99 stick, and it will offer twice the memory of Google Chromecast, which is a bestseller on Amazon. If you know about Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick, Amazon’s product will be familiar: a Wi-Fi-connected HDMI dongle that plugs right onto the back of your TV, powered by a separate USB wire. Its focus is streaming video, so not only do you see all of Amazon’s on-demand video options, you also get access to Netflix , Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, YouTube and more. The market for “over-the-top” internet streaming devices is already crowded with competitors like Roku, Google, Apple, and even Amazon’s own $99 Fire TV settop box, which it released earlier this year. You can also use the stick to project whatever is on the screen of your Fire tablet, Fire phone or Miracast-enabled tablet, including many newer models by such brands as Motorola , Samsung and Microsoft .

Smart TVs will have all those capabilities baked right in. “I don’t think the makers of these over-the-top devices realize they’re a transitional technology and that the sun is setting on the need for these devices,” says Jim Nail, a Forrester analyst specializing in online video. Nail says his research shows that consumers are beginning to wake up to the fact that there are television sets out there that can already do the job of these other devices. As a result, their appetite for plugging even more devices into that television is waning. “Consumers are starting to understand smart TVs well enough that smart TVs are going to the top of the list of the way they want to access over-the-top content,” he says. We haven’t had a chance to test out the Fire TV Stick—it became available for preorder Monday but won’t ship until Nov. 19—so we’ll have to put it through its paces then. In a blog post back in January, Roku founder Anthony Wood wrote that the goal of the new TVs was to “remove all of the complicated layers and menus, and unnecessary features and settings,” involved in the smart TV space.

More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader. That could hasten the consumer transition to streaming video, which, of course, would be in Amazon’s best interest, because it means Amazon could then sell them more content.

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