October 27, 2014 Last Updated 10:23 am

Amazon launches Fire TV Stick – a nice dongle to compete against Chromecast, but stuck inside Amazon’s weak ecosystem

It takes time to develop new consumer electronics products. The new iPads, introduced by Apple recently, were likely in development for over a year, and conceived at a time when Apple’s tablet sales were at record levels. Released today, however, they appear ill-conceived and a weak reaction to a market where consumers wanted to see a more dramatic improvements in the product if they were going to be tempted to upgrade.

This is probably the background to the just announced Amazon Fire TV Stick, a new HDMI dongle that looks designed to compete with Google’s Chromecast. The $39 Stick can be had for only $19 if the buyer is already a Prime customer.

Fire_TV_Stick-sm“Fire TV Stick is the most powerful streaming media stick available—a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi, included remote control, voice search with our free mobile app, easy set-up, an open ecosystem, and exclusive features like ASAP for instant streaming,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com CEO in the product announcement.

Demand for the product is likely to be light, but the product does impress with its RAM and storage. It makes one wonder how it is that a manufacturer can load a dongle with 8 GB of storage, yet Apple continues to offer the iPad at 16 GB and get away with it? (oh, yeah. Thin, thin, thin. Screw thin, IMO.)

The Amazon Fire TV Stick will offer the same line-up of apps (channels) as its box top system: Netflix, Pandora, WatchSEPN, etc.

The real benefit to these devices is that they interact with smartphones and tablets from the same product line. The Apple TV is the leader because Apple is the leader with the iPhone and iPad. Chromecast is a viable alternative when the consumer is committed to the Android platform. But Amazon’s recent foray into the smartphone market has been a bust, mainly because consumers saw through the product and could see that it was simply a buying devices disguised as a modestly nice smartphone. If Amazon weren’t so transparent in its goals they might have had more success.

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