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November 28, 2023
Amazon's Fire TV Cube started out as a streaming hub for the home, but it turns out that the baseline hardware has some legs in the business world. Amazon's AWS unit announced this week that the Fire TV Cube has adapted to function as a thin client computer targeted at the enterprise sector.
AWS's repurposed version of that hardware, dubbed the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client, is billed as a secure, low-cost option for enterprise workers – evidently taking aim at traditional workstations, laptops and other cloud-based computing options such as the Google Chromebook.
"One of Amazon's most familiar consumer devices has been reinvented by AWS for the enterprise," Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for AWS, proclaimed in this blog post detailing the launch.
He noted that the WorkSpaces Thin Client emerges as it becomes increasingly clear that remote and hybrid workforces are "here to stay," particularly in fields such as customer service, technical support and health care.
Amid that trend, AWS customers said they "needed a lower-cost device, especially in high-turnover environments, like call centers or payment processing," Melissa Stein, director of product for end user computing at AWS (and the person who oversaw the project), said in a statement.
"We kept hearing the same pain point from our customers – 'I'm tired of shipping employees expensive desktops and laptops, which can be challenging and expensive to recover if an employee leaves the company'," she added.
She said the Amazon Fire TV Cube hardware packs enough firepower to support cloud-based virtual desktops, but noted that AWS did need to develop a new software stack and purpose-built firmware for the enterprise option.
The move effectively breathes new life into Fire TV Cube hardware more than five years after Amazon first introduced it as a streaming platform/smart home combo.
Sold via Amazon Business, the AWS WorkSpaces Thin Client sells for $195 and uses the device's USB and HDMI ports to connect to peripherals such as dual monitors, mice, keyboards, cameras and headsets. AWS holds that the price falls well below traditional laptops or desktop computers that can cost in the range of $600 to $1,200.
But the more strategic move is to optimize them to connect to AWS, enabling the thin client to access applications in the cloud and be remotely managed using the AWS Management Console.
To ensure security, each WorkSpaces thin client is outfitted with a "secret" that establishes a trust relationship with the administrative service. Additionally, the device itself contains no local data, AWS said.
Big OS changes on the horizon
Amazon's new adaptation of the Fire TV Cube hardware is also entering the picture as the company looks to gain more control of the software platform running its lineup of streaming media players, smart TVs and other types of connected devices.
Janko Roettgers, who runs the Lowpass newsletter, recently reported that Amazon is developing a new, Linux-based operating system – internally called "Vega" – to replace a forked version of Android running on Fire TV-based smart TVs, streaming media players and other connected devices. Devices powered by Vega are expected to start shipping as early as next year, Roettgers reported.
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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