3 Reasons Amazon Fire TV Should Crush Apple TV

Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) introduced its new Fire TV streaming device yesterday at a media event in New York. The Fire TV is the same price as Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) market-leading Apple TV device at $99 a pop, but Amazon has perfected the technology to make streaming media to your television easier and faster than ever. Here are three reasons why Amazon's Fire TV will be a hit with consumers and how it could unseat Apple as the dominant player in the U.S. streaming-device market.

Advanced streaming and prediction controls
If you're like me and you currently own an Apple TV, then you know how frustrating it can be waiting for a TV show or movie to load. Amazon's Fire TV has a solution to this problem and it's called ASAP, or Advanced Streaming and Prediction. The ASAP feature predicts what a user is likely to watch and preloads the content so the television episode or movie begins the moment you push "play." 

Source: Amazon.

"The more you use Fire TV, the more accurate ASAP becomes, dynamically adapting to your viewing habits," according to Amazon. This feature should give the online retailer's gadget an edge over Apple's device, as buffering times are one of the biggest complaints about Apple TV and other streaming services. Plagued by long loading times, Apple reached out to Comcast recently in hopes of securing a deal that would "ensure users don't see hiccups in the service or buffering that can take place while streaming Web video," according to The Wall Street Journal

No matter how you cut it, truly instant streaming with no wait time is sure to be a big selling point for Amazon's Fire TV over rival devices.

Voice-activated search features
Voice search is another standout feature from Amazon's new set-top box. With Fire TV, users can simply speak a movie title, actor, or genre into the remote's built-in microphone and the device pulls up search results within seconds. This is certainly an improvement over Apple TV, which requires users to manually click one letter at a time on its alphabet grid. It is also a feature that is exclusive to Amazon's device, as you can see from the side-by-side comparison chart below.

Source: Amazon.com.

Nevertheless, voice control won't give Amazon an edge over competitors forever. In fact, there's a good chance Apple will include voice-activated features in its next-generation Apple TV. But for the time being, it gives consumers another reason to prefer Fire TV to rival devices.

Gaming the competition
Amazon's Fire TV also gets bonus points for its gaming prospects and diverse lineup of content from third-party providers. In addition to Amazon Instant Video, Fire TV owners can access content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, YouTube, ESPN, and Bloomberg TV, as well as Showtime Anytime and Pandora -- two services Apple TV currently lacks.

Although, to be fair, Apple TV currently offers HBO Go, which you cannot yet get on Fire TV. Apple is also said to be in talks with media giants such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable about adding more content like on-demand cable programming to its offerings in Apple TV. But the tech giant has tried to jockey for similar deals to enter TV before, only to come up empty-handed.

Source: Amazon

On top of this, Amazon is setting its device apart from Apple by throwing gaming into the mix. With Amazon's $39.99 game controller, users can play hundreds of best-selling games on Fire TV, including exclusive titles from Amazon Game Studios. The e-commerce giant plans to add thousands more games in the quarters to come, but for now this is a big advantage over Apple TV and Google's Chromecast -- neither of which currently offer gaming functionality. These games, on average, cost $1.85 apiece, though many are free to play.

Foolish final thoughts
In time, I think these three things will help Amazon steal market share from Apple in the streaming-device space. At the end of the day, this is a broader strategy by Amazon to get people to consume more of the company's content and media. Amazon Kindle owners already spend hundreds of dollars more than non-Kindle owners do. The same should hold true for Fire TV owners because the device makes it easier than ever for consumers to access and purchase content.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 8:23 PM, advisor13 wrote:

    Give me a break. Where do they find these writers? Nice job comparing the newest, most recent release of a streaming device to Apple's (last year) version of their device.

    You realize Apple has a new device coming right? You really think Amazon can design a better hardware & software product than Apple? Seriously? Even as they both stand currently there is no way this new Fire device will "Crush" the AppleTV. When you consider Apple's new device coming out it WILL be a crush- but the other way around.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 9:09 PM, SuntanIronMan wrote:

    @advisor13

    Difficult to compare the Amazon Fire TV to a device that is thus far is only a rumor.

    A new Apple TV might have might have Siri voice search, might have a A7 64-bit processor, might have its own App store with games, might have video game controller support, might have a TV subscription service, and it might be released fairly soon... or it might not. Until Apple releases the new Apple TV, we don't really know.

    I've been waiting for a long while (well, long in tech years) for the chance to go from my Apple TV (2nd Gen, the 720p one released in 2010) to newer one that has its own App Store. Some of these various rumors have been going on for some time now. I remember reading 'reliable' Apple TV App Store rumors back in 2012 (maybe 2011 as well). While some of the rumored hardware specs and software/service features seem likely to happen this year, it isn't guaranteed.

    For the time being, only the latest Apple TV (3rd gen, revision a) released in January of last year can be compared to the Amazon Fire TV because that's is the only Apple TV available to consumers. Until Apple releases (or at least reveals) the new Apple TV, there isn't really much to rely on in terms of comparing it (the rumored device) to devices that are actually available to purchase right now.

    For the time being, I'm still content to wait for this long-rumored Apple TV. My old Apple TV still serves me well enough and Apple has done a great job of adding new features via firmware updates over the years. But now that Amazon has raised the bar, hopefully Apple will respond accordingly. Even though I love the Apple ecosystem, that Amazon Fire TV is a rather tempting purchase.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2014, at 12:50 PM, alinuxer wrote:

    Having bought both chromecast and Amazon fire TV I like the fire TV way more, for one it has it's own remote. And more importantly I can unblock US content such as Hulu and Amazon by simply changing the DNS of the router, this is very hard to achieve on chromecast. See http://thevpn.guru/unblock-american-channels-amazon-fire-tv/

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