Amazon is pushing portability as one of the key features of its newly launched USB Fire TV stick against new smart set top boxes that are coming with internet connectivity and Android TV OS-like or walled app operating systems.
“Amazon Fire TV stick is portable and has a lot of content including voice search,” Rajiv Mehta, country manager, Amazon devices, told HT at the sidelines of the launch. The Amazon Fire TV, priced at Rs 3,999, is available on Amazon and select offline stores.
Watch Amazon Fire TV stick in action
However, the Amazon Fire TV might not be a success in India especially when national TV operators like Airtel, Videocon D2h, Tata Sky and Dish TV has started to offer smart set top boxes that has similar capabilities — turning a dumb TV into a smart TV.
“Amazon Fire TV stick may not be as successful due to the rise of the new smart set top boxes. The new set top boxes eliminates the need of owing two devices which is not the case with Amazon Fire Stick as it cannot support live TV or linear programming,” Pavel Naiya, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research told HT.
“While Amazon Fire TV stick costs Rs 3,999, a regular set top box costs at least Rs 1,200. However an Airtel smart TV costs Rs 4,999 which brings down the cost of the device,” Naiya explained.
He however said that Fire TV stick will help in expansion of the Amazon Prime Video ecosystem.
Interestingly, Amazon Prime Video cannot be streamed via Chromecast or any other devices available in the market. But both Airtel and Videocon D2H have confirmed to HT that they are looking at an active partnership with Prime Video to be present on their smart set top boxes post their Netflix deal.
Amazon also hinted that it wants to keep its content platform agnostic. “Amazon Fire TV stick users will not have any exclusive content. We believe in keeping all content open and accessible to as many users as possible,” Nitesh Kripalani, director of Amazon Prime Video, told HT.
However, Neil Shah, partner at Counterpoint Research pointed out that Amazon aims to sell its Fire TV sticks much before the smart set top box race kicks in. “There are 175 million TV houseolds in India and there are almost 175 million 3G/4G subscribers along with 20 million wired broadband subscribers. But only 12% of 175 million households are connected to wired broadband services making it a tougher market for connected services.”
“This also means that India has 230 million TVs in the country and out of this 150 million TVs will have HDMI ability. Now this 150 million is the actual market for Amazon Fire stick but are limited by broadband penetration essentially reducing the market size to 46 million — a number Amazon will be happy with,” Shah explained.