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Report: Amazon Readying a Set-Top Box

3 Oct, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Amazon is reportedly eyeing the Q4 launch of a connected streaming device intended to compete with Roku and Apple TV, among others

Amazon reportedly is collecting content, cable and related apps for the planned rollout of a set-top box in the fourth quarter that would compete with Roku, Boxee and Apple TV, among other streaming device manufacturers.

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth’s project, code-named “Cinnamon” or “Firetube,” would incorporate its transaction-based Amazon Instant Video and subscription-based Amazon Prime Instant Video platforms, among others, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources familiar with the situation.

Amazon, which is notoriously secretive about its strategies and products (as listening to a fiscal call will attest), has given third-party app developers until the middle of October to submit them for possible inclusion in the device.

Of course, Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet can function as a streaming device by connecting it to a digital TV with an HDMI cable — although online scuttlebutt suggests the connections sometime don’t work. Amazon apps are also imbedded in select connected TVs and Roku players.

A standalone device could help Amazon expand its reach into the living room with a brand synonymous with free shipping, packaged media and, now, streaming, say some analysts.

"If Amazon can produce a box that will have a truly complete package of streaming sources, that would be very compelling," said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. "This fits into their vision of dominating the competition in every area."

Meanwhile, Amazon said it has given the green light for the production of three new half-hour pilots. They include "Mozart in the Jungle," written by Academy Award nominee Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited), Jason Schwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore) and Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher); "The Outlaws," written by Jeremy Garelick (The Break-Up) and Jon Weinbach; and "Transparent," written and directed by Emmy Award nominee Jill Soloway ("Six Feet Under").

Viewers will be invited to watch, provide feedback and help determine which pilots should be produced as series to air exclusively on Prime Instant Video and Amazon’s LoveFilm in the United Kingdom in early 2014.


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