Amazon.com is gearing up to debut an Internet-streaming device, which will include access to Netflix and Hulu Plus and act as a videogame console with an optional game controller accessory, according to multiple reports.
Obviously, the box — which Amazon is expected to debut later this spring — will provide access to Amazon’s own Instant Video transactional storefront for movie and TV purchases as well as Prime Instant Video, the unlimited-streaming service available as part of the Prime free-shipping program.
Amazon’s set-top project came to light last year, and was potentially going to be ready for 2013 holiday-shopping season before the ship date was pushed back to target a March launch, per Re/code, citing unidentified partners. The device is being developed by Amazon’s hardware-development unit, Lab126, which built the company’s first e-reader and Kindle tablets.
The Android-based streaming Wi-Fi device also will include Netflix and Hulu Plus, GigaOm reported. Which makes sense: While Prime Instant Video ostensibly competes with both of those services, providing them increases the addressable market for the device — and better compete with other connected-TV products, such as Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.
With its own living-room hardware, Amazon also would get a foothold to promote its content offerings ahead of others. And, the eretailer would have a way to provide “T-commerce” — another potential single-click point of purchase for the millions of products in its catalog (which is Amazon’s core business).
Meanwhile, Amazon’s Internet streamer also will include gaming action. The company has developed a Bluetooth-based game controller, according to tech blogger Dave Zatz, who procured an image of the controller obtained from Brazil’s telecommunications regulatory agency. The image shows a button to connect to Amazon GameCircle, the eretailer’s app store for Kindle games.
The Amazon game controller, which runs on a pair of AA batteries, would be sold as an accessory and designed to work with Amazon’s Kindle tablets, Zatz speculated.
Amazon and Hulu reps did not respond to requests for comment. Netflix declined to comment.
At this point, nothing is known about the price of the box. Best Buy, however, has listed an Amazon streaming device on its inventory sheet for May, according to Zatz.
One thing the Amazon box won’t come with is a “virtual” pay-TV service that would challenge cable and satellite operators: The company denied a Wall Street Journal report that it was seeking to license TV channels from media congloms.