Amazon.com may be preparing to release a new gadget to stream digital video content, posing a challenge to Roku, Apple TV and consoles such as the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii U.
The device is being developed by the Amazon subsidiary in California that designed the Kindle hardware and will go on sale this fall, according to a Businessweek report that cites “three people familiar with the project who aren’t authorized to discuss it.”
It’s logical for Amazon to offer a wireless TV adapter, which would make it easier for customers to stream video from Amazon’s online video store and from its library of free video content provided to Amazon Prime subscribers. Such a device may also run games and other apps developed or sold by Amazon, and connect to music and photo collections stored online with Amazon.
A TV adapter would also complement the Kindle Fire tablets, which play video but are awkward to connect to a larger screen. They can output video via an HDMI cable but then you have a cable strung from the TV to the couch where you hold and control the device.
My guess is that Amazon will offer the TV device at a strikingly low price – for $30 or less, and perhaps even for free to Prime customers. It may also be offered in bundles with Kindle Fires and Prime subscriptions.
Sales of streaming TV adapters jumped 12 percent last year, driven largely by sales of Apple’s $99 Apple TV device, according to Infonetics Research. Another factor is falling prices. The cost of a Roku device has fallen below $100, with entry-level versions now starting at $50.
Future demand for wireless adapters is likely to fall, though, as more TVs are sold with wireless streaming capabilities built in. Such “smart TVs” already run apps that stream video from Amazon.
Asked for comment, an Amazon spokeswoman said the company doesn’t comment “on rumors and speculation.”