The trendsetting, record-breaking creative minds at online retailer Amazon.com are at it again. On April 2, 2014, Amazon Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced the tiny “tv in a box” that responds to voice commands for searching. The box plugs into your HDTV and Bezos says:
It's the easiest way to enjoy Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, low-cost video rentals, and more. With instant access to over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, plus all your favorite subscriptions and streaming services, you can watch what you want, when you want.
At last, long overdue for faithful fans of television technology, viewers will be able to search freely for their favorite streaming shows without having to use the clunky and frustrating typical cable remote tuners where you have to tap endlessly to type in—letter-by-letter—the name of a program, movie or actor that you’re searching for. Say an actor’s name (Mark Harmon), say the title (“NCIS”) you’re looking for, or genre (drama)—and per Amazon claims, poof, the box starts searching.
Fire TV also has a brain; it’s a little “Big-Brother-y” but once you get over that, Fire TV sports “ASAP” that guesses what you’re going to want to watch next, whether TV episode or movie, and has them “ready to stream instantly.” They’re promise to reduce your “cuss and fuss” time waiting on videos to load or buffer, and for that reason alone, it’s worth taking a chance.
The box retails right now on the site for $99 and from the photo you see they’re ready to show you: Netflix, Amazon instant video, HuluPlus, WatchESPN, ShowtimeAnytime, Crackle, Bloomberg, Pandora, Vevo and iHeart Radio: they say “200,000 TV episodes and movies, plus all your favorite subscription and streaming services,” so you’ll keep up with your independent subscriptions but the box makes it so much faster to access them and upload to your television. They promise new games are available, for a nominal cost, plus there’s enough free games to keep everyone busy.
In a way, it takes Google’s Chromecast doodad and relegates it back into the toy box. But, never underestimate Google; hide and watch for what they’ll come up with next.
Creative ideas—check; new technology—check; good competion to Apple and Google—check; advertising—fail.
On Amazon’s site today, there’s a preview of their new TV ad, which they say will be showing soon. So, be the first on your block to know, and before you use “1-click to buy” the new Amazon Fire TV and enjoy, you might want to watch the commercial first. Hint: The star of their ad is Gary Busey. Two guesses what and who he’s searching for. This may be Busey’s career bonanza bonus prize from when he was on “The Apprentice” and trying to sell Walgreen’s ice cream that someone in Amazon’s marketing firm thought of Busey as the ultimate pitch man. Or, it could have been a really bad April Fool’s joke late by a day. Watch and see for yourself.
Personal message to Amazon: if you want to sell me your Fire TV, you have not won me over with Gary Busey. Really. You put Busey's face as the takeaway image one of your nicest technological advances ? What were you people thinking? Amazon might serve its customers better to call those creative guys who do the J.G. Wentworth commercials. Y’all need some serious help.
Kudos, though, to the engineering team at Amazon; they’re forever thinking outside the box. The jury is now out on Fire TV. Just announce your product with anyone but Busey and I'll take a second look. Now it's time to search for an "NCIS" rerun in my presets. Click.