Amazon is at it again. The retailer has announced a new Fire TV streaming stick, putting the company in direct competition with Google Chromecast.
Amazon’s Fire TV set top box launched in the UK last week – we’ll have a full review for you soon – and marks the company’s latest step in trying to corner every market of digital media. It is already doing better than the Fire Phone, which has cost the company $170 million “primarily related to Fire phone inventory valuation and supplier commitment costs”.
But Amazon’s Q3 results confirm that it is a company that actively spends money to make it: net sales increased 20% to $20.58 billion in the third quarter, compared with $17.09 billion in third quarter 2013, but its net loss was actually $437 million across the three months. CEO Jeff Bezos, though, says they are on course for the holiday season – indeed, before Christmas sales have started, Amazon Fire TV is already the best-selling streaming box on Amazon for the US, UK and Germany.
Now, though, Amazon is moving forward once more to build on Fire TV’s success. After competing with Apple TV and Roku, it is now going directly after Chromecast with Fire TV Stick.
The dongle, which connects to the HDMI of a TV, will include Amazon’s signature voice search via a free mobile app, which already distinguishes the Fire TV platform from Google and Roku’s rival sticks. But Amazon’s stick is designed to pack a bigger punch too: it has a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and a whopping 8GB storage (far ahead of its competitors), which makes it suitable for casual gaming as well as VOD viewing. Owners of Fire phones or Fire tablets will be able to “fling” (take that, “casting”) their movies and TV shows to the screen. While this is far less universal than Chromecast’s all-devices-welcome approach, the Fire TV stick will also include a remote control, because that it what “customers have told us they want”.
The stick costs a competitive $39 and is being released in the US on 19th November – so don’t be surprised if it sneaks into the UK in December.