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October 1, 2020updated 03 Dec 2021 9:45am

Amazon’s new Fire TV takes the platform from streaming to communication

By GlobalData Technology

Amazon announced two new content streaming devices – its next-gen Fire TV Stick for $40 and a new Fire TV Stick Lite for $30. The Fire TV Stick comes with an Alexa Voice Remote and the Stick Lite comes with the Remote Lite and both offer HDR support.

The pandemic has seen an upsurge in streaming as consumers turn to television content more than usual for entertainment. A cheaper price for Fire TV Stick makes it more appealing to cash-strapped consumers seeking affordable entertainment.

The cheaper Fire TV Stick Lite also fills a gap in Amazon’s line-up and allows it to effectively compete with Roku and Google’s streaming sticks. Both devices are just in time for Amazon’s Prime day, which will run in October. A $20 discounted TV Stick Lite should sell in high volumes. However, lack of support for 4K resolution in both streaming devices is a glaring omission. Rivals that offer HDR also support 4K resolution.

Fire TV gets new user interface

Amazon has redesigned the Fire TV menu to include user profiles, improved browsing and exploring content, as well as a new feature: Alexa video calling on TV screens by connecting a Logitech web camera. This allows Fire TV to differentiate itself from streaming to a communication platform. Support for Zoom video calling is expected on the menu in late 2020. Small screen Zoom fatigue is currently a consumer pain point and Zoom calling on a big screen TV can help alleviate that.

The new user interface lets the streaming devices pair with Amazon’s Echo smart speakers for hands-free TV viewing. It also shows Ring camera feeds on the TV as a picture-in-picture while viewing content. This incentivizes customers to remain within Amazon’s ecosystem. However, the Fire TV platform still focuses on different apps rather than content. Meanwhile, TiVo’s streaming dongle integrates content on its home page to eliminate consumer frustration of clicking separate apps to find content.

Market landscape for streaming hardware is changing

Amazon has 40 million currently active Fire TV accounts and has sold 100 billion streaming devices. Increased customer interaction with Alexa causes a subsequent spike in customer engagement and revenue for Amazon, and with its Fire TV announcements, Amazon aims to make its voice assistant an integral part of consumer homes. The Alexa Fire TV Remote and Remote Lite are expected to be a teaser for an Amazon-branded TV. The TV industry is cutthroat but an Alexa-integrated TV with video calling is a USP.

The market landscape for streaming hardware is changing as new smartTVs come preloaded with content apps. Streaming services are becoming increasingly hardware-agnostic – Apple TV is now available on Roku, Fire TV and all new Samsung and LG TVs – thereby steadily decreasing the significance and need for streaming devices.

Video calling (with a Logitech camera set-up), and a Zoom integration (coming soon), elevates the Fire TV platform from simply video streaming to an essential communication device, a clever move as remote working and schooling is expected to continue into the near future.