Amazon Planning March Launch for Apple TV Set-Top Box Competitor

In light of recent reports stating that Apple is hard at work on an Apple TV refresh, Amazon is allegedly readying a new Web TV box that would compete with Apple’s set-top box and the Roku, according to Re/code. The report states that Amazon’s new media streaming device could be available as soon as March.

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Similar to rumors that surfaced last year, this latest information claims Amazon’s set-top box will tie into the company’s Instant Video service and may support third-party content providers in a manner similar to the Apple TV and Roku.

A box is also a logical move for Amazon, which is investing heavily to build up a Web video catalog, and is starting to produce its own shows as well. An Amazon box will allow its customers to easily watch that stuff on their TVs; it should also give other content providers a chance to serve up their stuff via apps, in the way that Roku and Apple TV boxes do.

Sources tell me Amazon’s box is will be powered by Google’s Android operating system, which is also not a surprise — Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets use a “forked” version of Android.

Re/code also speculates that Amazon’s set-top box could contain a gaming component, noting that the company is looking to expand its Amazon Games Studio by hiring game developers who can “break down technology barriers and deliver experiences people have never seen before.” This follows another recent rumor from VG247 that suggests the online retailer is working on an Android gaming console similar to the Ouya.

Amazon has stepped up its streaming content offerings in the past year, producing 14 original television pilots and using feedback to decide which get made into full shows, as well as spending significant amounts of money to secure exclusive rights to popular shows like Downton Abbey and The West Wing.

Currently, Amazon’s Instant Video service is available on iPads and iPhones, the Xbox 360, the Nintendo Wii, the Sony Playstation 3, smart televisions from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, TiVo, the Roku box, as well as a number of Blu-ray players.

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