Amazon's Fire TV Leaves a Big Opportunity for Apple Inc.

Apple has an opportunity to set itself apart from Amazon by giving people what they want.

Apr 14, 2014 at 2:30PM's (NASDAQ:AMZN) engineers have had a busy year of device announcements, including the Fire TV and (most recently) a leak to The Wall Street Journal about a handset to be released in September. Amazon is trying to position itself as a player in every major consumer-electronics market but it's also trying to lock customers into its content library.

While it might work, this strategy could backfire and leave a large opportunity for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Especially if it decides to pursue a simple strategy and give customers what they want.

Amazon's phone might rely on 3D content
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal published a story citing's intent to offer a mobile phone sometime around September. The article cited as a source "people who were briefed on the company's plans." The Journal doesn't often get specific claims wrong, so this event should happen as expected.

The article goes on to say that the differentiating feature would be a 3D viewing experience that makes some images appear like a hologram. Sounds cool: But cool for whom? The biggest reason (beyond the headaches) that 3D TVs haven't caught on is the lack of content. Perhaps 3D images would sway the decision-making process of a niche group of buyers, but it risks going into the closet for many people.

So why would Amazon take this chance? Because it ties you to Amazon created content.

Fire TV creates a lock into Amazon's rental and gaming content
The Fire TV is a similar situation. According to most accounts, the product is very similar to the other set-top boxes on the market. You can stream content from YouTube or Hulu, but if you want to rent a title that isn't already in their content libraries, you have to use Amazon.

Beyond video, consumers can purchase an add on handheld controller for $40 that allows you to access Amazon's game library, which has received good reviews. You're not going to find games like Titanfall, but there is a wide selection of fun and easy to play games.

Is being locked into one company's framework acceptable? Maybe, it worked for Microsoft for two decades when there was no real competition. But this isn't the same landscape.

Opening the content landscape could set Apple apart
Apple, is one of the last self-proclaimed hardware vendors and seems to be in the best position to give people a premium appliance that can tie into any back-end content. Isn't this what people really want?

If Apple is willing to risk people choosing Amazon for much of their online viewing, it could dramatically improve the chances that iTunes remains at the center of personal content libraries. This would require a leap of faith, at a time when risk is a four-letter word.

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David Eller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and Apple. 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.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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