Sites including Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier this year that Amazon was working on a set-top box that would compete with the likes of Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast dongle. Speaking with GeekWire last week, Jeff Bezos said that he “wouldn’t want to speculate” on the company’s plans in the living room.
Well, it seems the rumor mill has done some serious talking for him. The Wall Street Journal reports that the box, codenamed “Cinnamon,” will be coming to consumers in time for the holidays. While there’s no clear evidence that this will be its name, Amazon recently filed for a trademark on the name “Firetube,” which could be the moniker for the new box.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Seattle-based online retailer is in discussions with a number of potential partners, including cable channels and online video providers who would add their content to Amazon’s existing Prime streaming video service.
It’s not clear yet how the device would be controlled, whether through a separate remote, an app for smartphones and tablets, or some combination of the two. The remote control functionality of the Kindle Fire HDX seems like it would be a no-brainer for a means of controlling the device.
Unlike the Apple TV or Roku boxes, which both support streaming from Netflix and Hulu, Amazon may have some trouble getting its competitors in the streaming video space to get on board with its box, assuming the company wants them there at all.
One thing’s for sure, though: Amazon is going to be facing an uphill battle breaking into an already full-to-bursting market occupied by Apple, Google, Roku, and even Microsoft, through the streaming video capabilities of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Amazon, which is known for offering its hardware products at razor-thin margins, may try to compete on price. But until they announce anything, it’ll be hard to say how it could stack up against the competition.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.