The Real Reason Amazon Launched Its Own Streaming Device Today

Amazon unveiled its Fire TV, a device that will compete with Apple TV and Google Chromecast, but the move wasn't for the reasons you might think.

Apr 2, 2014 at 6:31PM

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) officially launched a new streaming-media device today that will compete with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Chromecast, and Roku's devices, among others. Amazon is calling its new gadget Amazon Fire TV, and with a $99 price tag it seems the e-tailer is hoping to steal market share from Apple in the video-streaming space. But Amazon is after far more than mere hardware sales with its new Fire TV.

Amazon's gateway drug hits Prime time
The company's new device isn't about selling hardware; rather, it comes down to the Amazon Prime ecosystem. Prime members tend to spend more (and more frequently) on compared to non-Prime subscribers, and the same goes for Kindle owners. In fact, analysts estimate that people who own Amazon's Kindle devices, on average, spend upward of $400 more than Amazon shoppers without Kindle devices, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. This research also suggests that Kindle and Prime owners make Amazon purchases "over 50% more frequently than other customers."

These are exciting statistics for the online-retail giant, particularly because 40% of customers now own a Kindle device. Moreover, the Kindle ecosystem accounted for as much as 23% of Amazon's operating profit last year, according to estimates from Morgan Stanley. It's not surprising, then, that the world's biggest e-tailer is offering a new streaming device that will give Fire TV users instant access to over 200,000 movies and TV shows from Amazon Instant Video. It will also let you watch content from third parties such as Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, Showtime, and ESPN.

Similar to its competitively priced Kindle products, the new device should act as a gateway drug to Amazon's growing content library. The company said today that it plans to introduce new shows this fall as part of its Prime service. Moreover, getting consumers to buy its $99 Fire TV will ultimately lead to more content-related sales for Amazon down the road.

Nevertheless, in today's fragmented media market, Amazon is up against competitors with deep pockets, including Google and Apple.

Competition abounds
Google introduced its $35 streaming video stick known as Chromecast less than a year ago and now claims about 14% of the market, according to BI Intelligence. Meanwhile, Apple TV leads the pack with 43% market share followed by Roku devices, which hold 24% of the U.S. streaming-device market.

Still, for Amazon's 20 million-plus Prime members, owning a Fire TV device should be a given. Prime subscribers get unlimited video streaming as part of their $99 per year membership, therefore having Fire TV to instantly access that content seems like a no-brainer. Amazon is said to have more than 20 million paying Prime members today, which bodes well for adoption of its new media device going forward.

Screen Shot

Source: Amazon.

During the company's media event today, Amazon said its Fire TV has three times the performance and power of Apple TV, Roku 3, and Chromecast, according to TechCrunch's live coverage of the event. With a $99 price point, the new device will cost the same as Apple TV and carry 2 gigabytes of RAM.

But unlike Apple TV, which often makes users wait while it loads content, Amazon's new gadget boasts an "ASAP" feature, which stands for Advanced Streaming and Prediction, that lets users play a show immediately without needing to load it. Dual-band and dual-antenna MIMO Wi-Fi powers this feature. This is especially exciting for people who are tired of waiting for their Apple TV to buffer. Voice-search capabilities give Amazon's Fire TV another edge over Apple's device. Instead of clicking one letter at a time on Apple TV's alphabet grid, Amazon's set-top box lets users speak the name of title, actor, or genre they're looking for into the remote.

At the end of the day, this is just one more way that Amazon's Fire TV is making it even easier for customers to consume its media.

The biggest thing to come out of Silicon Valley in years
If you think Amazon's new streaming media device is exciting, just wait until you see this. A hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one of these in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. Find out how you can get ahead of the curve and invest in it now for just a fraction of the price of AAPL stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Tamara Rutter owns shares of and Apple. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of, Apple, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers