Amazon Gets on the Stick Too
The Amazon set-top that Bloomberg said would launch last fall is now reportedly in the queue for next month. And it's no longer a set-top, but a streaming stick. (See Amazon Set-Top Slated for Fall.)
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) will sell the new Android-based gadget through its website and through retailers, including Staples and Best Buy. Meanwhile, Techcrunch is reporting that the device will be an HDMI adapter like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Chromecast and the latest offering from Roku Inc. (See Roku Sticks It to Google.)
Unlike its competitors, the Amazon streamer is said to be a source for gaming as well as video. The details aren't yet confirmed, but it's possible that the Amazon stick will stream existing PC titles in addition to offering access to Android games. Dave Zatz of Zatz Not Funny recently found evidence of an Amazon Bluetooth gaming controller that could pair nicely with a game-oriented HDMI stick.
On the video side, Amazon is likely to promote its own Instant Video offering, but multiple outlets also suggest the company's new retail gadget will ship with Netflix and Hulu Plus support. Netflix service, at the very least, should now be considered table stakes in the retail streaming market.
Even as more big brands jump on the streaming stick bandwagon, it could be a while before US cable operators follow suit. Although the cable companies like the idea of deploying cheaper hardware, vendors are still working out the kinks to make sure that an HDMI adapter could support a full premium television service.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) apparently has fewer misgivings. Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said earlier this month that the set-top it acquired through the acquisition of Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s OnCue assets is "a little bit bigger than my thumb." However, it's not clear if Verizon would offer the OnCue device with a fully-fledged FiOS TV service, or if it would use the hardware to market a lighter pay-TV package. (See Can Cable Stick One on Chromecast?.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading