Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) finally threw its hat into the competitive ring of set-top media players. The $99 device offers superior specs than existing media players, but it's also priced at the high-end of the spectrum. That's typically not Amazon's strong suit as cheap Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets have helped it gain ground in otherwise competitive markets.
However, the market's reaction may not necessarily match the consumer mindset. Amazon has spent the past few days promoting Fire TV on the landing page of its popular online shopping site.
I was hooked, placing my order on Wednesday and kicking the tires on Friday. The slick interface and bar-raising voice search work well, but more importantly I think I went through more Prime Instant Video content on Friday night than I have in the years since Amazon's video service has been available to Prime subscribers.
Most of the existing set-top media players and consoles allow for seamless streaming of Amazon's video platform, but Fire TV clearly favors Amazon's ecosystem. If Amazon is able to push millions of these through -- and that's certainly reasonable in the coming months -- it will be a difference maker.
Briefly in the news
And now let's look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.
- Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS ) is updating its rules for its Monopoly board game. Don't worry. Boardwalk is still the most valuable property. However, new rules, including doubling the $200 bonus for landing on the "Go" square and giving the collected taxes and fees to the next person to land on Free Parking. If those rules sound familiar, it's because Hasbro is adopting some of the most widely practiced unofficial rules.
- Variety reports that Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) is gearing up to launch in France. Germany and France have been rumored to be the video service's next markets, but expansion won't be easy. France is particularly fond of homegrown content, forcing Netflix into lining up more local content than usual. This has to be more than slapping French subtitles on House of Cards.
- Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) closed out the week on a bad note after California changed the way it calculates credits on zero-emission vehicles. The move will make the Tesla S more expensive for buyers, eating into Tesla's profitability.
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