Amazon will stop allowing the sale of Google and Apple video-streaming devices on its site as it focuses on its own Prime Instant Video streaming service.
Prime Video has become an important part of Amazon’s £79 annual Prime loyalty membership program. The video-streaming devices sold on the site should be able to work with Prime Video, the company said Thursday.
“It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion,” Amazon said.
Along with Amazon’s Fire TV, the site will still sell other companies’ video-streaming devices that are compatible with Prime Video, including Roku, Xbox and PlayStation. But Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast will be not be sold.
Google Inc. and Apple Inc. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Seattle-based Amazon has been rapidly expanding its Prime Video Service, including recently inked deals to stream NBC Universal’s critically acclaimed drama “Mr. Robot” and a multiyear licensing agreement with CBS.
Amazon said viewers will soon be able to control home appliances through Fire TV, a function available on Echo, the company’s personal aide gadget that can control thermostats and lights.
The devices, which compete with products from Apple as well as Roku and Google, allow users to stream in high-definition 4K from Amazon as well as other online services such as Netflix, HBO and Showtime.
‘Since we launched Amazon Fire TV last year, gaming has been a customer-favourite,’ said Amazon vice president Peter Larsen.
‘Today, we’re excited to expand gaming on Fire TV by providing a new option – Fire TV Gaming Edition – for customers and families who are looking for affordable and high-quality gaming.’
In addition to volume controls and a Siri button, the top of the remote has a ‘glass-touch’ surface that lets viewers control their TV as if they using a phone
The fourth-generation TV box was unveiled at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in California during Apple’s fall launch event.
Its new remote has a glass-touch surface that lets viewers control menus with their fingers.
It additionally features a ‘Siri’ button that lets viewers search using just their voice.
All of the screens have been redesigned to ‘focus on the content’ and Siri will search across every app – including Netflix, iTunes, HBO, Showtime and Hulu – to find content.
Other Siri features include the ability to find exact clips within episodes and the option to skip back and show dialogue that was missed.
While watching a film or TV show, swiping down on the touch surface will present a menu of information about actors, for example.
Viewers can also ask Siri questions about a show, or ask for scores or about the weather, and the answers appear on the screen.
Turning the remote on its side transforms it into a games controller, and iOS games have been adapted to work on the larger screen.
TV OS even offers multiplayer functions on compatible apps, such as Crossy Road.
Amazon took a $170 million write down in the third quarter last year after it struggled to sell its inventory of $200 Fire smartphones.
Amazon has said it does not plan to profit from devices but to drive more customers to services through the gadgets.
It comes a day after Google unveiled a new version of its $35 Chromecast TV dongle, and hit out at Apple’s TV plans and touch remote.
‘Chromecast allows you to bring apps to the TV by extending the apps of your phone,’ said Mario Quierioz of Google.
‘The phone becomes your best remote.
‘Our technology allows us to go beyond the TV screen to speakers.’
Apple launched the latest version of its TV service earlier this month.
Amazon is also testing an Uber-like service for delivering its one-hour Prime Now packages that will enlist people to deliver packages for Amazon with their own cars in America.
In order to offer the speedy deliveries Amazon will pay drivers $18 to $25 an hour via its new Amazon Flex program.
The move comes before the bustlingly busy November and December holiday shopping period.
And it comes as startup on-demand delivery services such as Postmates and Shyp proliferate. Ride-sharing service Uber itself has been rolling out a food delivery service UberEats.
Drivers have to be at least 21 years old and pass a criminal background check and motor vehicle records review.
People in Seattle can sign up now. The program is expected to roll out to New York City’s Manhattan, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland.
Amazon has been expanding its Prime Now service for members of its £79 annual Prime loyalty program.
The service delivers a wide range of items including paper towels, wine and beer (in Seattle only), chilled and frozen items like milk and ice cream and televisions and Kindle device in one or two hours.
Two-hour delivery is free and one-hour delivery is available for £6.99. It now offers Prime Now in 11 cities with across the country with plans to roll out to more.
On its website, Amazon said currently it’s only offering the program to drivers, but in the future it might let people bike or walk the packages to their destination.