Fire TV Stick becomes Amazon’s fastest selling device in the UK
James R | On 16, Apr 2015
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick has become Amazon’s “fastest selling” device ever in the UK, just as the company launches its IMDb-linked service, X-Ray.
The stick connects to TV sets and allows users to connect to the web to stream VOD services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix. The device is a scaled down version of Amazon’s Fire TV set top box, putting Amazon in direct competition with Roku and Google Chromecast, as the race to turn people’s televisions into smart TV sets heats up.
“We expected Fire TV Stick to be popular, but the customer response has just blown us away,” comments Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, Amazon Devices EU.
“For just £35, Fire TV Stick delivers powerful performance and access to a vast selection of content, apps and games. The phenomenal demand has made Fire TV Stick our fastest-selling device ever in the UK in the first week after going on sale, and we think our customers are going to love it.”
The thumb-sized stick, which plugs into a TV’s HDMI port, boasts a dual-core processor, double the memory of Chromecast, and Amazon-exclusive features, such as Advanced Streaming and Prediction – “ASAP” – which learns what Amazon movies and TV episodes you want to watch and buffers them for playback before you hit play.
Fire TV’s line-up includes Prime Instant Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Curzon Home Cinema, STV Player, YouTube and Demand 5, although it does not include NOW, the Sky-owned service, which is available on both rival sticks Chromecast and Roku.
The device begins shipping this week following high demand for pre-orders – Amazon has not confirmed how many units have been purchased – and marks Amazon’s two-pronged approach to the VOD sector: the retailer has already launched its own brand of hardware, including Fire phones and tablets, with the aim of encouraging users to purchase digital media through its pay-per-view store (unlike Netflix, customers can buy shows not available in the subscription catalogue), but is also throwing money at exclusive content, such as TV series Outlander and Vikings, and original shows, such as Transparent and Bosch.
The announcement follows the launch of Amazon’s new feature, “X-Ray”, on both Fire TV boxes and sticks. The feature, which has previously been available on Fire tablets, is powered by IMDb and uses the database’s 180 million data items to search for other movies featuring actors, or find out trivia about TV shows, including the background music playing in a scene.
“We’ve all been there: you’re sitting on the sofa, watching a favourite movie or TV show, and a familiar face enters the scene — but you can’t for the life of you remember who he is, or what other movies he’s been in,” says Peter Larsen, Vice President Amazon Devices.
“X-Ray solves this—it integrates the vast database of IMDb right into the viewing experience, so you can easily see trivia, actor information and soundtrack music behind TV shows and movies.”
The addition of X-Ray, a bit like having a silent DVD commentary on, could prove an interesting future direction for digital media; Blu-rays have previously offered similar picture-in-picture trivia tracks as exclusive features. But would you rather see such features on a streaming device, or more VOD services added?