Many products were unveiled this week and at the center of this deluge was Amazon’s latest range of Fire and Alexa-enabled products.
What caught my eye from a TV perspective was the new Fire TV Cube. I had interviewed Daniel Rausch, Vice President, Entertainment Devices and Services at Amazon earlier in 2022 and touched on whether there would be a new Fire TV Cube in 2022 and whether Amazon had any interest in make a premium Fire TV Cube that would compete with Apple.
As you can guess, it didn’t come to anything, but this announcement shows that Amazon had the ambition to challenge Apple in the premium realm of the streaming market.
It’s an interesting bet from Amazon because, on the face of it, the specs match the Apple TV 4K similarly, and with the Alexa Remote Pro, it looks like Amazon has taken some note of the all-new Apple Siri Remote.
It doesn’t have as much storage – 16GB compared to the 32 and 64GB configurations of the Apple TV 4K – and although the Fire TV Cube 3 is priced up by £30, it hits a cheaper RRP at 139, £99 versus Apple’s £169.99, which gives them the main advantage (pun intended).
The 2021 Apple TV 4K has, for me, never quite reached the sweet spot where I would be tempted to buy. That’s probably why Apple’s streaming boxes have never really sold in droves, and for home theater enthusiasts who want flexibility in their setups, the Fire TV Cube 3 looks like the option. the most versatile with its widest selection of inputs and ports.
That doesn’t mean it’s an absolute slam dunk for the Fire TV Cube 3. Those ads littering the interface are going to annoy more than a few people who think they shouldn’t really see them considering they’re paying ( probably) already for Amazon Prime. And given that it’s an Amazon product, it only really makes sense for Prime and Alexa users – although you could say the same for iOS users for the Apple TV. 4K.
As homes get smarter than Amazon’s products, they’re starting to stretch their legs. Privacy concerns notwithstanding, Alexa is by far the most popular voice assistant and, as with many Amazon products of late, integration with other services such as Ring is becoming much more narrow while Apple’s HomeKit is an ecosystem that plays much better with Apple Products.
So, can Amazon beat Apple? I think they have a good chance of squeezing Apple in this area of the market because the Fire TV Cube 3 would, on paper, seem more accommodating. What threatens to spoil the party and turn a potential win into a potential loss is Amazon’s approach (or lack thereof) to accessory bundling.
HDMI and IR extension cables are sold separately, while the streamer only comes with the Alexa Fire TV remote and not the Pro model. This involves Amazon skimping on a few items to hit its lower price and once you buy those accessories, the price advantage will effectively be eroded.
The lack of a supplied HDMI cable was annoying with the first model and the fact that neither it nor the IR extender are included is doubly annoying. Who would buy the Cube and then pay extra for the Pro Remote? If you’re buying the best streamer Amazon has to offer, it should have everything you need in the box.
I feel like the Fire TV Cube 3 closes in but then misses the teardown for a good but imperfect landing, but we’ll have to wait and see when the reviews start rolling in. And they missed a trick by not calling if the Cube Fire Television. It was just there for the taking, Amazon.