Here Comes Kindle TV

A blog about business and economics.
April 25 2013 8:22 AM

Watch Out World—Here Comes Kindle TV

151371827
Jeff Bezos, CEO of AMAZON, introduces new Kindle Fire HD Family and Kindle Paper white during the AMAZON press conference on September 06, 2012 in Santa Monica, California.

Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages

Word on the street is that Amazon is developing a Kindle TV set-top box comparable to a Roku or an Apple TV or the non-gaming features of an XBox or a PS3. If the box reflects Amazon's general business principles, it's bad news for the other players in this field.

Basically unless Amazon has a radical change of philosophy they would want to sell a box like this at cost. At the main customers for it would be existing Amazon Prime members, who would use the box to access the large library of free streaming video available to Prime members. The attraction to Amazon would then be that it serves as an access point for additional sales of digital content through Amazon and for the sale of additional Prime memberships. Why sell Prime memberships? Well, because the more Prime members you have the more people who'll turn to Amazon for delivery of the broad set of basics—toilet paper, toothpaste—and not just sporadic large-scale purchases.

Advertisement

Where do you make the money in this? Well it's not clear. That's the terrifying part about competing with Amazon and the joy of being an Amazon customer. As we've seen time and again, Jeff Bezos has persuaded Wall Street to back a strategy of "growth now profit later" that has no obvious endpoint.

In some markets, Amazon's competitors still have a decisive quality edge. The Kindle Fire line of tablets are interesting, but even though they're cheap they feel cheap to use. But I'm not sure that things like build quality matter for set-top boxes the way that they do with phones and tablets. The Apple TV is a very elegant piece of industrial design, but it's also a little box that sits on your shelf not something you pick up and handle. Even if Kindle TV can't quite match it, a combination of good price and good accesses to aggressively priced digital content seems like a winning strategy.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Music
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?