No Joke: Amazon Is Launching Apple TV Competitor on April 2

Amazon Big Smile

It appears that Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) longrumored Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV competitor will make its debut on April 2. Insider sources cited by Re/code have confirmed the launch date, and Amazon has already sent out invitations for a media event on April 2 that will feature “an update on our video business.” The invitation has an image of a couch strewn with popcorn, which also strongly suggests that the event will center on a television-related product.

Amazon’s device will compete with Apple TV, Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chromecast, and digital media players made by Roku. Although Amazon’s upcoming video-streaming device is commonly referred to as a set-top box, recent rumors have suggested that the device will not resemble a box like Apple’s digital media player.

According to insider sources cited by TechCrunch, the device will look a lot like Google’s Chromecast dongle. Like Chromecast, Amazon’s device is also expected to plug directly into a television set’s HDMI port. TechCrunch’s sources indicated that Amazon’s TV gadget will be capable streaming “top-tier games” at a standard online video service speed of 30 frames per second. If TechCrunch’s sources are accurate, the upcoming product could give Amazon an important head start in the burgeoning game-streaming business.

Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the extent of the company’s success with its Apple TV product at the company’s last annual shareholders meeting. According to Cook, Apple made more than $1 billion in revenue from Apple TV and Apple TV content sales in fiscal 2013. However, the addition of game support could give Amazon’s device a competitive edge over its competitors.

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.

Apple has not confirmed any of the rumors or announced plans to launch a new Apple TV product. However, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Apple is in talks with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) concerning the possibility of creating a streaming-television service that would bypass congestion caused by public Internet traffic. The report suggested that Apple’s next entry into the Web TV market is being held up by negotiations with partners.

Amazon’s move into the video-streaming hardware market follows the company’s similar actions into the e-book reader and tablet markets after it began offering media for those devices. Amazon has long offered streaming Internet video content through its Amazon Instant Video service, and its upcoming video-streaming device would complement those services.

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