Amazon set-top box could do for Prime video what Kindle did for books

Even if Amazon isn't really working on a set-top box, it should. Now.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Amazon leadership will be the first to tell you that the idea behind the Kindle Fire is not to sell tablets -- it's to sell content.

In fact, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos repeated that strategy over and over to journalists just last week when introducing the Kindle Fire HDX.

It looks like the Seattle-headquartered operation is about to apply that same strategy to streaming video in the living room.

Amazon is reportedly cooking up a set-top box of its own that should be ready by the holiday season this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

With a form factor similar to the compact Roku box, the device would ideally serve as a medium for delivering Amazon's Prime Instant Video service.

Even if Amazon isn't really working on a set-top box, it should. Now.

While neither Amazon nor its biggest competitor in the video streaming market (Netflix) like to release specific figures about just how much cloud-based content they offer, it's clear just based on looking at what's available on their landing pages that Netflix is leading the charge here -- at least in terms of more popular selections.

Amazon's Kindle Fire has grown to be the top selling tablet in the Android ecosystem and number two in the market overall, second only to Apple.

It has done this not only because the franchise does include some well-performing devices with stellar technology, but also because the Kindle Fire serves as an excellent portal into the vast library of digital content that Amazon provides. That locker includes books, magazines, games, apps and, yes, digital video.

But for some reason, Amazon Prime Instant Video still seems to be struggling -- at least from a consumer's perspective. As someone who has bounced between Prime and Netflix, there aren't a lot of incentives to subscribe to Amazon Prime as far as video is concerned. Better reasons would be free two-day shipping and maybe even the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Prime Instant Video is already available on some Internet-connected TVs and gaming consoles. But Amazon's Prime app never seem to be a selling point for these products.

A set-top box would likely serve as a better tool than a tablet for Amazon in selling its digital video service to more consumers -- much like what the Kindle brand has done for its digital bookstore and arguably even similar to Apple TV for iTunes.

It's obvious to just about everyone that Amazon is run by incredibly smart people that are willing to take a lot of chances. How else could a corporation grow from an online department store to also serve as the leading force in cloud computing? I can't think of another company with a more diverse portfolio.

For Amazon to miss this kind of opportunity is almost unthinkable. Whether or not the device (and Prime Instant Video by extension) succeeds is another story, but its existence and eventual debut seem almost inevitable.

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