Amazon positions its new connected TV device as a solution to existing usability bottlenecks and leads with video content not games.
Amazon extends its ecosystem into the TV space and brings a whole roster of content with it but the company led with video content and described games and games apps as a bonus.
However, Amazon sought to apply pressure on the incumbent console companies and the rash of Android micro-consoles by innovating in a number of areas. While it can't compete directly with the latest dedicated games consoles, this announcement with have smaller Android console players looking over their shoulders.
Amazon attempts to overcome interface challenges suffered by connected TV devices
Fire TV voice search will help with discoverability but does not solve the gameplay challenge using a standard remote. It is clear that even with the availability of advanced gesture control, games controllers still represent a best-in class solution for game control on TV. As such Amazon introduced an optional gamepad at $40, which will allow a better solution for gaming than many more general connected TV devices.
With this positioning Fire TV competes more directly with Android micro-consoles already in the market such as Ouya or PlayJam's GameStick, but with potentially more mass-market appeal.
With this positioning in mind, where do Amazon's strengths lie?
- Device price: At an announced price point of $99 plus $40 for the gamepad, Fire TV is more expensive than a number of other Android TV console competitors, but offers a more powerful solution to consumers and a number of other benefits. At this stage we do not believe this price differential represents a deal breaker especially for the Amazon consumer.
- Device power: With quad core processor, 2GB of RAM and a dedicated GPU - a similar specification to high-end smartphones - Fire TV is a step up from existing Android-based micro consoles. Clearly it can't match the capabilities of the latest dedicated consoles, but it aims to offer something different to the consumer. On this basis the Android console players will be feeling under threat.
- Games Content: Amazon has obviously been busy behind the scenes developing its own games exclusives for the platform. As we know exclusives drive platform adoption and depending on the quality of these games, this is a strong competitive differentiator against the other Android console competition.
- Ecosystem: A shift to the connected TV device sector is a natural evolution of Amazon's tablet and ecommerce strategy. Not only can Amazon rely on its existing tablet users to be tempted with the Fire TV experience, it has a vast amount of users accounts with linked credit cards that represent a massive commercial advantage against the independent Android console competition.
- Parental Controls: Amazon has announced that its FreeTime kid-friendly curated content wrapper for the Fire tablet OS will be coming to the Fire TV also. This is a substantial 'user experience' differentiator against existing Android consoles and positions the platform as more mass-market and family friendly than a number of other connected TV devices in the market.