Amazon has been rumored to have been working on a music streaming service for some time now, and today Amazon debuted Prime Music, a music streaming service for Prime members that promises to house over a million songs from over 90,000 albums and playlists. So far, Universal Music Group isn’t participating in the deal, but it’s nonetheless a sign that music streaming services are becoming increasingly important to companies who want to keep users locked in to their media platforms.
Amazon today announced the launch of a new Wearable Technology store, which will function as a one-stop shop for customers looking to compare and discover the latest in wearable technology like fitness trackers, smart watches, cameras, and the like. Amazon additionally announced partnerships with top brands to deliver the latest technology, including established wearable technology brands like Samsung, Jawbone, and GoPro, in addition to up-and-comers like Basis, Misfit, and Narrative. As the burgeoning category of consumer technology continues to excite and prove popular, Amazon is offering a “learning center” which includes product videos and detailed buying guides, as well as an “Editor’s Corner” to find information about wearable technology news and reviews. It signals wearable technology’s advance into the main stream – and codifies it as a category that’s here to stay.
In a move that signals their intention to cater to cordcutters, this May Amazon Prime Instant Video will offer some of HBO’s reporting. This represents a pretty significant shift for HBO, who previously touted their exclusive HBO Go service as the only way to find their shows. That said, the new library does not include any new series until three years after they air. And much of HBO’s coveted bak catalog of shows like “Sex and The City,” and “Entourage,” are still stuck in syndication webs. Nonetheless, if you don’t want to pay for cable and still want HBO, your options are vastly expanding. And for cordcutters, it means that their options for getting quality program beyond the traditional cable networks are expanding daily.
The long-awaited Amazon set-top box was announced today. Called the Fire TV, it is immediately available to purchase for $99, and comes packed with many different features. From a basic stand point, it’s a streaming set top box. With apps like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, MLB.tv and NBA, the device will have many of the ways to stream content that users have wanted for some time. As expected, Amazon’s products have taken center stage, as Amazon Instant Video was pushed hard over all the other apps. To take advantage of the online streaming, though, Amazon has also included something called X-Ray, which is part second-screen device and part control system, much like Xbox’s Smartglass. Where it differs, though, is in the fact that X-Ray pulls in content from the Internet – for instance, if you’re watching a movie it will show data from IMDB. As well, Amazon’s ASAP feature predicts which episodes you’ll want to watch based on your history, and automatically adds them to a queue. There’s also a voice search integrated into the remote, looking to compete directly with things like Apple’s Siri.
But it’s more than just a TV streaming device. There are also games: Amazon announced a suite of games that it has developed in house, with an additional controller available for $39.99. The games, however, are designed to be cheap, priced at $1.85 per game. Competition for the living room is fierce, and is only heating up. Whether Amazon gets people to purchase its device at a lower price – for the gaming, the streaming, or both – will be a key indication that it lower prices in the field could undercut the wider living room device industry at large. Either way you slice it, though, Amazon’s foray into the living room means that companies like Roku and Plex need to look over their shoulders.
In a move that takes it into direct competition with Youtube, Amazon is pitching YouTube networks that produce short-form videos for the digital video leader. From the producers’ perspective, it would expand their viewership numbers, and it would open up a pay-per-video revenue stream. They would also receive branded pages on Amazon that would promote their videos, much like a show page on Hulu or a Channel on YouTube. The ultimate goal is to be able to market these videos to people searching for the products the videos are about; for instance, if I’m looking for a video game, a review video might pop up in my search results on Amazon. It’s a potent possibility, and if it pans out it could mean true competition with YouTube.