A Bloomberg article today indicated that Amazon may be working on a set-top TV box. Details are scarce, but here's what you need to know.
1. Amazon Will Be Following In Google and Apple's Footsteps
It's important to note that Google and Apple have already developed some great set-top boxes, creatively titled Google TV and Apple TV. Amazon has been slow in entering the hardware market, with the Kindle, Kindle Fire HD, and a rumored smartphone that has been talked about for months now, and a set-top box could be a step in the right direction.
2. It Will Be Developed by Amazon and Cisco Employees
According to the Bloomberg article, the development for the Amazon's set-top TV box will be led by Amazon's Lab126 division in Cupertino, California (Apple's based out of Cupertino too). But, the project is being run by Malachy Moynihan, former VP of emerging video products at Cisco Systems. Bloomberg says other hardware engineers include:
Andy Goodman, formerly a top engineer at TiVo (TIVO) and Vudu (WMT), and Chris Coley, a former hardware architect at ReplayTV, one of Silicon Valley’s first DVR companies.
3. The Set-Top Box Market Is Already Competitive
Besides Google and Apple, there are dozens of other companies that are very successful in the set-top TV box market. Not only is there the PS3 and Xbox 360, which are capable of streaming video from various services, but there's Roku and Boxee as wel. Roku is known for their set-top box and is undoubtably better than competitors. With such strong competition, the set-top TV box market could be difficult for Amazon to break into.
4. Amazon Has a Successful Video Service
One thing that should help Amazon though is Amazon Instant, the company's streaming video service. They recently wrangled exclusive rights to Downton Abbey, the popular UK show, away from Netflix for a huge sum of money, so clearly Amazon is invested in the service. The service is free for Amazon Prime subscribers, but also could be purchased as a standalone app for $8 a month.
5. It Could Launch This Fall
Bloomberg writes that the TV set-top box could come as soon as this fall. It will be able to connect to the Internet (obviously) and its sole purpose is to bring streaming content to your living room. The question is, will they include other services like Netflix, Hulu, Youtube? Probably; it'd be pretty dumb not to since Amazon would lose out on a lot of potential customers.