Apple’s vision shreds Amazon’s Fire TV, other set top box also-rans

“Apple builds hardware that can be appreciated for its own sake with the added benefit of a delightful user experience that, often, leads to creativity,” John Martellaro writes for TheStreet. “Apple’s Jonathan Ive’s goal is to make a product that pleases us and thereby triggers the imagination. The device is the experience, and the experience invites freedom of expression and choice.”

“Looking at the new Amazon Fire TV (and even the Apple TV), I see a black box. Plain in the extreme. The message here is that the hardware means nothing,” Martellaro writes. “What one can use it for to satisfy tastes and interests is paramount. The box, if it could be reduced to a grain of rice, would be just fine.”

“Unfortunately, when the business goal is [to] get better at convincing the customer into spending more, there is a certain implicit callousness towards the consumer. There is a distinct difference between a beautiful instrument of creation that can be used for entertainment and virtually invisible hardware that caters solely to the frequent, shallow whims of the customer,” Martellaro writes. “With all that in mind, what future options are available to Apple? With Google’s Chromecast, the Roku systems and the Amazon Fire TV, should Apple be focused on a next-gen black box, indistinguishable from the rest? Is a race to deliver the most salivating content so that Apple can make nickels and dimes on movies and TV shows Apple’s ultimate goal?”

Martellaro writes, “Apple — if it is to remain faithful to its corporate vision of empowerment instead of the enslavement its critics (and competitors) imply — is thinking (I hope) about something more inspiring, more grand than just another tiny box to deliver addictive visual dazzles.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Amazon’s disappointing ‘Fire TV’ a complete waste of time – April 3, 2014
Analyst: Amazon Fire TV might wow Gary Busey, but Apple needn’t worry – April 3, 2014
Amazon Fire TV vs. Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Chromecast – April 2, 2014
Amazon launches $99 ‘Fire TV’ hoping to rival market-leading Apple TV – April 2, 2014
Apple TV sales topped $1 bilion in 2013, becoming Apple’s fastest growing hardware – February 28, 2014
Tim Cook and Apple TV: A ‘hobby’ no longer – October 7, 2013
Apple TV dominates digital media receiver market with 71% share – May 29, 2013

22 Comments

  1. So Amazon creates a black puck while skating to where the puck was, how hard is that?

    One would think after all the time TV has been on the market, Bezos would introduce a product that kicked the can a little further down the road.

      1. That comes once Apple releases the 4th-Gen Apple TV.

        From your lips to God’s ears.

        I suppose Jeff Bezos is comfortable with his portrayal in the financial sector as an innovator of Consumption and myriad ways to take our money.

        In spite of introducing what might appear at first glance, a second-rate media consumption device, Fire TV will advance with incremental changes, unless it gets hit with a fire extinguisher.

        I smell smoke.

        Mainstream American households using computers is at 75% and 100-million of those people shop at Amazon, including me, but I have no interest in subscribing to Amazon for media consumption. Not when Apple is the premier hub for entertainment.

        Whose household would buy a Fire TV, knowing a new TV was forthcoming, besides Apple haters?

        Amazon is Walmart of the Internet, they both surge in consumerism to fill the coffers of their owners.

        Apple does too! But many of Apple’s owners are in fact its shareholders who live high wide and handsome thinking different, thanks to Apple.

        Go AAPL!

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    1. I got the Amazon Fire TV yesterday. I hate to say this… I really hate to say this… as someone with 4 Apple TVs and a ton of other Apple products, you have no idea, but the Amazon Fire TV is a little further down the road.

      It’s got a nice game controller, games, an SDK, voice search that works really well.

      It’s not without its flaws, and Apple could easily leapfrog the Fire TV, but Apple has had that ability for a couple of years now and we keep waiting and waiting and waiting….

      Meanwhile Amazon has this product already shipped and in use.

      It’s a shame Apple hasn’t opened the Apple TV with an SDK. Amazon would’ve (would still) likely develop an app for it and Amazon has some really good exclusive content. Likewise other apps would really make a difference.

      1. We have the latest Apple TV.
        The Netflix UI is marginally better, and we stream iPad video but that’s it. The remote is so small that you can lose it under a single fold of material and it takes 26 button pushes to do anything.
        Apple (again) appears to be coasting.

        1. I find Netflix UI to be noticeably better on the Apple TV, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed with software updates.

          The small Apple remote may be annoying for some, but at least it’s infrared and universal remotes can be used to program the Apple TV (through infrared and Bluetooth).

          The numerous button pushing isn’t as bad on the Fire TV in some ways, but it’s still a bit of an issue. Where it really becomes a drag is during browsing as you have to push forward many more times to browse through titles (going back is easier and voice search helps a ton if you’re searching instead of browsing).

          1. It was a great moment when I discovered that my ordinary TV remote I was already using that came with my TV could be learned by AppleTV, and so existing buttons (the directional pad that is used for nothing else works good for this) could be identified for AppleTV’s use.

            I can’t imagine more than half of AppleTV users know this.

        1. And that 2nd-gen Fire TV will be even further down the road than the Apple TV. Given Tim Cook’s track record, the next major upgrade for Apple TV will be January — just in time to miss the holiday season.

      2. Sadly Apple hasn’t done anything “magical” with the Apple TV. I honestly hate the interface. It’s slow and takes forever to get anywhere. It’s also lacking any YouTube/Netflix paring.
        I have a Roku 3 and for what I use it for it’s a much better device and interface. It’s not as smooth as the ATV, but in functionality it’s much better.

        I keep seeing all these posts about how Apple has the superior device, but honestly, they don’t.
        All these set top boxes look the same, but where Apple seems to be lacking is any forward movement.

        I just wish Apple would make a new interface, allow real apps, and boost the specs a bit. Until then I have lost interest 🙁

  2. Anyone want to bet that the new Apple TV will NOT have auxiliary HDMI ports on the back so it can also be used as a switch? (And eliminate the cable clutter from many sources to the TV.)

    1. I’d take that bet. As much as I’d love Apple to do this, as well as allow the Apple TV to be a Ethernet/WiFi switch, I doubt Apple will do this. I wouldn’t bet against being a WiFi access point, but I’d bet against the multiple HDMI ports.

      The reason is that in Apple’s world, there is no DVD player, no Playstation or Xbox or anything else that would need an HDMI port. Even if there was, there are already multiple HDMI ports in most TVs and receivers.

      1. Apple has no need for HDMI anymore, they have Thunderbolt & Lightning.

        The difference between the next-gen TV and Xbox One could very well be a cable connector, something Microsoft can’t seem to bring themselves to incorporate into Xbox. The so called, “all-in-one home entertainment system” is still tethered to cable and satellite boxes. Perhaps it’s their reputation for stabbing partners in the back, each time they bring some new hardware device to market and subsequently fails.

        Rumor has it Apple’s been in talks with Comcast, maybe other cable giants as well, to perhaps deliver an TV that supports CableCard.

        A built-in television tuner would obviate the need for the rest of what constitutes a television these days and push Apple a step closer to unified living room experience.

        Good luck with your Fire TV. We have extinguishers at the ready.

  3. Amazon, without supplying ANY numbers, will declare the Amazon Fire TV a success.
    Tech analyst will then repeat Amazon’s “success” over and over in their stories without any proof.

  4. Based on early client feedback, the Fire TV looks to be a major hit for Amazon.

    For streaming to work for many clients the device must have:

    1. Quick access Amazon Prime content.
    2. Easy ways to find or search for content.
    3. No long delays to find or play videos.

    Amazon Fire has these attributes. I even have clients who own Apple TVs calling about switching to Fire TV. Why? Amazon Prime Content.

    I am beginning to suspect either:

    Amazon has more Prime members than Apple has iTunes members. (Not likely)

    Or

    Amazon Prime members watch a lot more video than do iTunes members. Which will make the Amazon Fire TV very valuable.

    1. A real moneymaker for amazon is going to be advertising on their Fire TV. amazon is the biggest storefront in the world — something that Apple and Google can’t touch. They will sell advertising to steer Fire TV users to their sellers. I foresee more free content with amazon seller ads.
      See an ad or commercial for something you like? You can buy it on the spot and have it in two days with free shipping (or have it instantly if it is downloadable).
      With the right software (and who does online selling better than amazon?), this could really snowball.

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