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Amazon Readying Streaming Stick Device

18 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Dongle device would rival devices from Chromecast and Roku

The miniature set-top box market is about to get another 800-pound gorilla.

Amazon reportedly is finalizing a dongle-type gadget that would plug into a television’s USB or HDMI input, enabling the device to stream third-party video and interactive games, among other content.

The device, which would carry the “Fire” brand name (similar to its Kindle Fire tablet) and link to Amazon Prime, Amazon Instant Video and other content app sources, could begin shipping to retailers such as Best Buy and online by April, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources familiar with the situation.

The streaming device is being developed by Amazon Lab126, which is described as an “inventive R&D company” responsible for developing the Kindle tablet.

Amazon has declined comment on the media reports.

Streaming video has become a hot commodity through subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Streaming media devices have been around since Roku rolled out a Netflix-branded device in 2007, which helped launch the subscription streaming market. Apple TV attempted to incorporate its strong brand presence into the streaming device market despite apparent indifference from the company's late co-founder Steve Jobs, who infamously characterized video streaming as a hobby.

While Apple has sold millions of the devices, Apple TV has not generated the traction or buzz of the iPhone or iPad.

Google last year bowed Chromecast, a dongle device that emulated a similar stick design and price launched earlier by Roku.

TechCrunch.com reported that Amazon’s foray into interactive gaming via the device could be a huge first-mover action — as well competitive advantage against Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast, which don’t carry gaming.

“[Amazon] already manages huge server farms to power its digital content and cloud-service offerings,” TechCrunch wrote. “If [interactive gaming] was added as an Amazon Prime member benefit, the e-commerce company could have another incentive to get users on board.”



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