Amazon hopes a new dongle will revive its flagging video ambitions.
The Fire TV stick is essentially the same as Google’s Chromecast concept: a low cost HDMI dongle bundled with a taster of Amazon’s own entertainment service – and a miniature version of the Fire TV box 'n’ remote that it revealed in April.
Both old box and new dongle allow access to a bunch of TV and music services including Netflix, Spotify and some games.
The Fire stick costs $39 in the US, with an offer of $19 if you pre-order now, although the bundle only includes one month of Amazon Prime Video.
After years of bungling its TV strategy Google has found success with its low cost Chromecast dongle - which in the UK includes a strong selection of material including Sky’s Now TV, BT’s football, and Tesco’s Blinkbox. Now TV also offers its own HDMI “dongle” for a tenner – although that reflects its more limited specs (no 1080HD output, for example) and less ambitious bundle (Spotify but no Netflix).
Amazon spent £200m acquiring LoveFilm, a well established brand in the UK, in 2011, but found itself steamrollered by Netflix, which now boasts 3 million punters here. In February, Amazon moved the video subscription service into the Amazon Prime subscription, increasing the price of Prime to £79. After this it seems to have disappeared completely. You’ll have a hard time finding it on the Amazon home page amidst the offers for Kindles, while even Prime members don’t get the hard sell.
The UK has only just got the Fire TV box - if you're Stateside, you can find out more about the TV stick here. ®