Amazon is doing its damndest to take over your living room, and true to style, the company isn’t content to sit back and rely on others to provide the hardware it needs. Amazon is aiming to launch its very own Apple TV-style set-top box next month, according to a report from Re/code Friday morning.
The set-top box will reportedly run Android, as does the Kindle Fire (which runs a forked version of Android), and the company is supposedly aiming to release the device in March.
That’s after reportedly putting the idea on hold last year, when many were expecting a set-top box in time for Christmas.
A set-top box makes obvious sense for Amazon, which has been upping the ante on the content game in recent months, particularly with the launch of its own original programs. Its most successful TV show, Alpha House, was the most watched series on Amazon Prime the weekend that it launched. Amazon has seen similar success with exclusive in-season rights to shows and mini-series, like Under the Dome, which also drew more viewers than any other series on Prime in 2013.
Amazon is hoping to duplicate its Under the Dome success with a new summer series, Extant, starring Halle Barry as an astronaut attempting to reconnect with her family after a year in space.
There has been talk of raising Prime prices by $20 to $40, which may end up scaring a lot of customers away. A recent survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that at a $119 price point, Amazon could lose up to 40% of Prime subscribers. Could a free set-top box come as a perk for subscribing?
Or maybe the device itself will help offset Prime costs so that Amazon doesn’t have to pass them onto the subscriber. But given Amazon’s penchant for building and selling hardware at breakeven prices, that doesn’t seem too likely.
Whatever the pricing scheme, a set-top box will finally bridge the gap between your Kindle Fire and your TV screen.
Amazon has also been hiring game developers lately, so there’s talk that Amazon could be working on an Ouya-like gaming console, but it’s not clear if the set-top box is it.
There were rumors floating around in 2012 that Amazon was gunning to acquire Roku, which ended up going on to raise $45 million instead.