NEW YORK (NBC) -
Amazon made a play Wednesday to insert itself into the entertainment battle for preeminent streaming video devices with the online release of its new device, Fire TV.
The company hopes lessons learned from its rivals like Apple and Google will give Fire TV an edge.
“We hear about what’s working and we hear about what’s not working,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President of Amazon Kindle.
Amazon said its device will be easier to use and offer better performance than its competition.
A microphone-equipped remote will enable voice search, and an optional controller will allow for gaming. Content will be available from Amazon’s video library and some others, including Netflix and Hulu.
“The thing’s tiny, it’s incredibly powerful, and it’s unbelievably simple," said Larsen.
Fire TV will cost $99, a price equal to Apple TV but higher than other streaming devices such as Roku and Google Chromecast.
“I don’t think it makes enough sense to solve enough consumer problems so that this is an off-the-shelf, obvious Christmas gift later this year," said Jordan Rohan, an Internet services analyst for Stifel Nicolaus and Company.
CNBC technology correspondent Jon Forit said the challenge for Amazon is delivering a seamless viewing experience with the new Fire TV.
“Something that I would argue nobody has been quite able to achieve yet. It’s a tall order. They could fail. And with technology like this, if they fail, it will cost them,” Forit said.
Amazon said customers who purchase Fire TV will get a free 30-day subscription to Amazon Prime and Netflix. Online sales of the device began Wednesday, and it will be available in some stores, including Best Buy and Staples.