While it was no surprise that Amazon put out their own streaming box, I fear it was to little to late. While the Amazon Fire TV (referred to from this point on only as “Fire TV”) is a nice piece of hardware, it’s so late to the game that most people don’t need it. Most people already have a Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, PS3 or PS4, or Xbox 360 or Xbox One, and they are more open (with the exception of the Apple TV) than the Fire TV, the Fire TV is more like the Apple TV in that it is a walled garden of sorts, yes you can use Netflix and other apps but you’re pushed to stay in the Amazon ecosystem.
Now I’m not going to sit here and just bash Amazon, they got some things right, the hardware is nice and the Bluetooth remote with voice search is innovative. And don’t forget the $99.00 price tag, that puts it in line to compete with the Roku and Apple TV but if you’re already in the Apple ecosystem you won’t want to switch and have to re-buy all your content and the Roku is far more of an open platform.
Then there is the fact that if you don’t mind being mostly in the Amazon ecosystem you also don’t have as good a selection. I gave up my Prime membership two years ago because I don’t buy enough to keep if for the free two day shipping and the Instant Video catalog was horrible compared to Netflix. Granted I haven’t seen the catalog in two years and I’m sure it’s gotten better, but I’m happy with Netflix at the moment. Another issue I have is limiting access to things to only Prime members, I enjoy a BBC show called MI-5 (Spooks in the UK) and I was buying each season on Amazon Instant Video, after I finished season 8 I went to buy season 9 and found out that I couldn’t buy it, but if I rejoined Prime then I could stream it. I wanted to OWN the seasons not rent them, and this is another reason I’ve stopped using Amazon Instant, the games they play make me wonder if I get into another show, will I be able to see all of it without a Prime membership or will they hold the end of the show from me unless I get Prime? Right now the only show I’m still buying a season pass for is Sons of Anarchy and that’s only one more season.
Not to mention the PS3 Amazon app is a real pain to use, I currently use my PS3 for 90% of my video streaming and the Amazon app is the worst app to work with. Now yes I’m sure the Fire TV is set up different from the PS3 app but it can’t be much better.
Ok I went off topic a little, but I think it’s a fair argument against the Fire TV, when there are more open platforms out there that can run an Amazon app if you wish when would you pay for a more closed off device? In my view the Fire TV is a nice attempt but ultimately it will never take off like the Kindle, and possibly leave Jeff Bezos with egg on his face at the end of the day.