7 Questions for Amazon About Rumored Streaming TV Box

Amazon is rumored to be working on its own Roku-style video streaming box. Here’s what I’d like to know about it first.

Is there a Kindle TV box on the horizon?

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the answer is yes. Amazon is said to be readying its own streaming TV box to take on the likes of the Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation — and every TV manufacturer that now builds smart-TV apps like Netflix and Vudu directly into televisions.

The Seattle-based e-tailer already has an ambitious home video strategy. Amazon Prime customers get thousands of free movies and TV shows (in addition to free shipping of real-world goods) with the $79-per-year membership, and the company is ramping up production of original series as well. But ambition does not a successful TV strategy make — just ask Google (Google TV) and even Apple (which still calls the Apple TV box a “hobby,” while rumors of a”real” Apple HDTV remain nebulous.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with seven questions about Amazon’s rumored streaming video box. Here’s what we’d like to know:

1. Will it offer an ‘app store’ with non-Amazon content?

“Amazon’s Instant Video service is, arguably, neck-and-neck with Netflix, offering much of the same content for  “free” to Amazon Prime members, as well as some notable non-Netflix exclusives (“Falling Skies,” “The Closer,” “Justified,” and  soon — “Downton Abbey,”  to name a few). And unlike Netflix, it also offers the option to buy movies, TV episodes, and TV seasons a la carte — cord-cutters can watch next-day episodes of “Mad Men,” for instance.

But as great as Amazon Instant Video is, Netflix is still considered a must-have for most streaming customers. The same goes for YouTube and Pandora.

So, will Amazon offer those “competing” services on its box? Will it offer a take-it-or-leave-it handful of channels like Apple TV does? Or will it go for the “anything goes” open app store approach of Roku (with more than 700 channels and counting — albeit a lot of niche-y stuff that’s well outside the mainstream).

2. Will it have games?

Amazon’s Kindle tablets already have an Appstore (containing a subset of what you’ll find in the Google Play store for open Android tablets). Not surprisingly, many of the hit apps are games.

Could the Amazon video box double as a gaming machine? Will there be a dedicated controller? Roku already offers a handful of games (including Angry Birds), but Apple hasn’t gone there — yet.

 Read More: John P. Falcone, reviews.cnet.com
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