Amazon’s Fire TV: The inside view from an early partner

amazon fire tv screen shot

Amazon’s new $99 Fire TV set-top box came out of the gate this morning with a range of apps and content partners, an inclusive approach that even included Netflix, the larger rival to the Seattle company’s Prime Instant Video streaming service.

AmazonFireTV-FireStandingSo what what’s it like to develop a service for the new Amazon box? We spoke with an executive from one of the early content partners, Bloomberg, which is the exclusive business news service on the Fire TV at launch. The company has plenty of experience in this realm through its Apple TV app.

For starters, the Amazon test hardware given to developers was responsive and high-quality, said Oke Okaro, Bloomberg’s global head of mobile and connected devices, noting that the shipping boxes could be even better.

“From a technology standpoint, it’s built on the Android platform, which gives us a great deal of flexibility in terms of packaging up the experience in any way that we think is optimal,” Okaro said. “They have UI standards that they recommend you follow, but in this particular case, we’ve been able to package this up in a way that we think best showcases our content, rather than potentially being hindered by having to stick to a template or collection of standards.”

Okaro said he was impressed with the amount of time Amazon spent working with Bloomberg on all the details, to make sure everything was “rock solid” with the app. He took that as a sign of the effort that Amazon is putting into this initiative.

The free Bloomberg app for Fire TV offers a variety of on-demand video, including digital original content, plus a live 24-hour stream of Bloomberg TV. Select live events will also be available through the Bloomberg app on the Fire TV. For big news events, Bloomberg will quickly create special content packages to present to viewers in the app.

Users can also access a unified playlist that syncs across Bloomberg’s website and mobile apps, saving content in the iPad app, for example, for viewing later on the Fire TV.

Looking at what Amazon announced today, Okaro said it’s clear that this is just the first step: “The choices they’ve made from a technology platform standpoint definitely give them the ability to rapidly evolve the experience over time.”