Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Amazon plans to launch a set-top box this fall that will stream content from its Video on Demand store and Instant Video service to consumer television sets. No word yet on whether the hardware will also offer video apps from competing service providers such as Netflix Inc. and Hulu LLC.
The move shows that even as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to debate a future for AllVid, the retail video scene is expanding rapidly.
The big question with over-the-top video streamers, however, is how well they will integrate with traditional pay-TV services. Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. led the retail charge when they introduced IP apps for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox more than a year ago, and Verizon has an app on Samsung Corp.'s connected TVs and Blu-ray players as well. Yet, it's unclear how many platforms service providers will be willing to support.
Amazon is also an unlikely retail partner for cable given its competitive video offerings.
The Amazon set-top, meanwhile, is said to be under development in Amazon's Lab126 division. Top engineers from Cisco Systems Inc., TiVo Inc. and now-defunct DVR company ReplayTV are all reportedly part of the project.
One note of irony: for a box that everyone loves to hate, the set-top certainly appears to be making a comeback.