Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up the technology industry’s push to reach customers in their living rooms.
The world’s largest Internet retailer is set to unveil a television-viewing device for streaming movies, television shows and other video from the Web at an event in New York, said people with knowledge of the plans, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
The device will put Amazon in closer competition with Apple Inc. and Google Inc., which offer their own Internet-connected gadgets for streaming video to a TV. The move will also escalate the company’s rivalry with Netflix Inc. in video-streaming services. All of the companies are striving to reach into consumers’ living rooms and to tie customers to a particular ecosystem of services.
Kinley Pearsall, a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Amazon, didn’t return calls seeking comment. Bloomberg News reported last year that Amazon was planning to release a television set-top box.
Amazon has been using free video streaming as way to lure more people to its two-day shipping subscription, called Prime. Prime members are typically among the company’s most active online shoppers, said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles.
“This is about selling Prime,” said Pachter, who has the equivalent of a hold rating on the stock. “It really does open up their ability to deliver a lot of stuff.”
With its own box, Amazon can feature its library of video instead of depending on other TV manufacturers. Like Netflix, which produces shows such as “House of Cards,” Amazon has been developing programming to attract customers with exclusive content.
“Nobody else has a critical mass of content outside of Netflix,” said Pachter.
Bezos is pushing Amazon further into the manufacturing of hardware, including tablet computers, e-readers and package-delivering drones. A TV device provides a new platform for software developers to build games and other applications for the various digital devices.
The television products from Amazon and others have largely served as a supplement to existing cable-television services instead of replacing them. The services don’t offer much live programming for things like sports and are mainly an entry point for accessing catalogs of movies and TV shows for viewing on demand.
Apple’s TV product costs $99. While it provides access to videos from iTunes, Hulu LLC, YouTube and others, Amazon video isn’t available. Google’s TV product, called Chromecast, was introduced last year and costs $35. Others competing in the market include Microsoft Corp., with its Xbox game system, and Roku Inc.
“This is their attack on Roku and Apple TV,” said Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners.
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