On literally a weekly basis, there's another rumor in the over-the-top (OTT) space. Apple has made industry watchers (and consumers) wait in anxious anticipation for its next iteration of the Apple TV. And, there's been consistent buzz--heating up last week--that Amazon is set to unveil an Apple TV and Roku competitor --killer?--in the form of a Web TV box.
Honestly, I’m excited for Amazon to enter the OTT fray, as I believe--or hope--that Amazon will think outside the box and deliver an experience that will make us believe Amazon--to steal attribution from Apple--is insane(ly great).
I have some specific ideas about how Amazon's box may evolve beyond "just video." Consider these "what if" scenarios:
- Amazon to "own the home:" I don't think it's at all far-fetched to think that Amazon has a very grand plan for any device that it develops, especially one that sits in the home, in the living room. If I were to look into a crystal ball, I envision Amazon TV as not only an entertainment portal but also a home monitoring and management device (a la Nest). It’s also a possibility that this could--if it included a camera--serve dual purpose as a home surveillance tool (a la DropCam) or a video chat/conferencing solution (a la FaceTime). Streaming may be the core technology, but Amazon has the technical chops and brand integrity to diversity the device and enable a variety of services.
- RFID for Amazon: A really simple--but incredibly helpful--use would be a portal for real-time status of Amazon orders (from physical goods to perishables, i.e., Fresh) transported by truck (or drone). And imagine a new model for the Sears Roebuck catalog … rather than logging on and browsing by mouse or swipe, the device would automatically know "you" or your household members and offer ongoing insight not just to orders but discovery of new physical (or digital) goods. You might even ask, "What's the best seven inch chef’s knife?" … and it just might respond, "Have you tried the Shun? It's on sale for $134.95."
- Always On: Amazon just started advertising; what if this box were "always on" with display advertising--driving revenue for Amazon but benefiting the consumer by providing access to free programming or digital coupons?
- Gaming Assist: Amazon has also long been rumored to be getting into the gaming business in a big way. Logically, this potential box could also function as a game console or an entertainment-centric "second screen" of polls, trivia and even advertising synchronized with broadcast content ... or remote audiences.
- Music: And let's not forget music … House of Cards Season 2 may be clogging the pipes, but consumers are still streaming to their ears' content from iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and others. With a few tweaks, Amazon could extend this into a Sonos alternative with its Cloud Player.
Amazon being Amazon, wouldn't it make sense for the company to innovate beyond what Apple and Roku are focused on? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.