NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc unveiled a $99 video streaming device called Fire TV that the e-commerce company promised would be more powerful and easier to use than rival services by Apple Inc, Google Inc and Roku.
Amazon is a latecomer to the set-top TV market that is dominated by the Apple TV. Amazon customers have a large appetite for film and TV, but many already own similar devices, analysts said.
Fire TV, which is available on Amazon.com, can access Netflix, Hulu and other providers of streaming video content. It also provides a more prominent showcase for Amazon Prime Video as well as its growing slate of original television shows and video games from Amazon Studios.
“It’s the easiest place to watch Netflix,” Amazon executive Peter Larsen said at an event in New York on Wednesday to launch the product. “You can watch ‘Alpha House’ and you can watch ‘House of Cards’.”
Amazon said it decided to develop the device after getting feedback on its website from customers who bought set-top boxes like Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast. Common complaints include lagging performance, cumbersome search and closed “ecosystems” on those devices, it said.
“When we look at the living room, how do we make the complexity disappear?” Larsen said.
Fire TV can predict what the user will watch and cue it up instantly, Larsen said. A microphone in the remote enables voice-activated search. A video game controller can be purchased for $39.99.
Seattle-based Amazon said it tried for “lowest price point possible” on Fire TV, which costs about the same as an Apple TV, but substantially more than Chromecast or Roku.
(Reporting by Jennifer Saba and Liana Baker in New York; Writing and additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman in San Francisco; Editing by Richard Chang)