Amazon, Apple, and Google TV Devices: One of These Is Not Like the Other

Amazon Big Smile


Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) empire is growing. On Wednesday, the online marketplace-turned-tech titan announced Fire TV, the company’s answer to the set-top streaming media devices offered by peers like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). The device, priced at $99 (comparable to Apple TV and the high-end Roku), offers users access to a competitive spectrum of content, ranging from Netflix to Pandora to ESPN, and will even have access to a collection of games, some of which will be exclusive to the device — and, of course, the device integrates with Amazon’s Cloud Drive.

The first game built from the ground up for the device is called Sev Zero. The game was announced on Wednesday, alongside the device, and costs just $7; it is free with the purchase of a $39.99 game controller. The average price of a paid game on Fire TV is $1.85, according to Amazon. It’s unclear how much traction Fire TV will gain with the gaming demographic, much of which is currently bogged down in a contest between the PlayStation versus Xbox, but there does seem to be an opportunity to capitalize on a casual-gaming audience uninterested in the high up-front investment involved with traditional consoles.

Amazon’s device will compete alongside Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, and media players made by Roku. These devices have all experienced fairly robust success to date — Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company earned more than $1 billion in revenue from Apple TV and Apple TV content sales in fiscal 2013.

Rumors about an updated Apple TV have been circulating since last year. Sources who spoke to 9to5Mac indicated that Apple is working on a successor to the current Apple TV device that may include new types of content and a revamped operating system. And according to sources cited by iLounge, the next-generation Apple TV may also include the ability to stream or download video games, which would allow the device to compete on another front with Fire TV.

For his part, Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood is apparently not worried about his company’s competitors in the increasingly crowded streaming media device market. “Apple TV is essentially an accessory for the iPad,” Wood told Re/code’s Peter Kafka, according to CNET. “They lose money, which is unusual for Apple. If you’re losing money, why would you want to sell more?” However, the Roku chief executive also noted that his comments about the Apple TV’s margins were “speculative.”

At the much-lower price point of $35, Google’s Chromecast may be operating in a league of its own. Currently without access to ESPN or games, as well as a narrower selection of video apps than its competitors, Chromecast seems to be the device of choice for a much more casual media consumer.

One standout feature of Fire TV is voice control: The device’s remote has a microphone in it. This feature was highlighted by Amazon’s first ad for Fire TV, starring Gary Busey.

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