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Amazon reportedly readying Android console

Amazon reportedly readying Android console

Fri 09 Aug 2013 8:36pm GMT / 4:36pm EDT / 1:36pm PDT
RetailHardware

Game Informer says online retailer is working to have a new system with dedicated controller out by Black Friday

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Amazon could be the latest company jumping into the Android-based console market. Game Informer cites sources "who have knowledge of the in-development hardware" with the news that the online retailer is looking to launch its own Android-powered console by the end of this year.

The report says the system will have its own dedicated controller, and that Amazon will use the hardware to push its own Appstore, which offers a different paid app for free every day. Amazon uses a similar strategy with its Kindle Fire tablet, using the hardware to drive consumption of books, movies, games and other content that are also provided by the retailer.

The Android-powered console market is quickly becoming crowded. Ouya and Nvidia's Shield were the first to launch, but there are a number of competitors on the way, including PlayJam's GameStick, Mad Catz's Mojo, and Bluestacks' GamePop. Google is also rumored to be preparing its own Android console.

As of press time, an Amazon representative had not responded to a request for comment.

16 Comments

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
Eventually someone will get one of these Android consoles right. With the manufacturing and marketing muscle to get to critical mass.
Then the huge superiority of the App Store business model over the plastic and cardboard business model will see yet another dagger in the back of Xbone, PS4 and WiiU.
We live in interesting times.

Posted:8 months ago

#1

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,051 0.9
Popular Comment
The early 80's seem to be the blueprint of today. For governments, it's 1984. For the video game industry, it's 1983.

Posted:8 months ago

#2

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,118 888 0.8
Well, its another proposition that could work.

I'm not ruling out the possibility of a Kindle Fire Box along with a Nexus and new Apple TV not just as gaming devices but some of the most advanced living room and multimedia devices available. Though with Chromecast it does make me wonder if Google are reconsidering making a new box in favour of sticking to existing Google Play certified devices...

Amazon have a powerful and growing distribution channel and the Kindle Fire as an extension of the Amazon digital ecosystem has been a runaway success so far. Its a bit of a big conclusion to make from a job posting but a possibility.

Posted:8 months ago

#3

Robin Clarke
Producer

275 600 2.2
It's a no-brainer for Amazon really. The groundwork they've done with the Kindle Fire would easily transfer to a set-top box. If it's $99 and bundled with Minecraft they'll sell millions.

Of course nobody is going to buy any of these Android boxes in lieu of a real console, because consumers aren't idiots.

Posted:8 months ago

#4

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,374 1,022 0.7
My girlfriend got given a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Awesome! Except that she bought a Paperwhite just a month beforehand, and she returned the Fire for store credit. Why? Because all she does is read books, and as a dedicated book-reading device, the Paperwhite is far-and-away better than the Fire, which is just a tablet with the Kindle app on it.

There's a good portion of consumers who are interested only in one thing (reading books or gaming) and they aren't going to buy some jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none device which doesn't have the same UI functionality or range of games as a dedicated device.

Posted:8 months ago

#5

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,118 888 0.8
You know, it is possible for a non Sony or Microsoft console to be a better living room multimedia device with a better ecosystem and better user interface and experience. It doesn't mean that everyone will be sold on them or everyone will find it fits their requirements but it doesn't change the fact there are people in which it will.

This word 'console' is also very deceptive as it causes people to only think of games, which isn't the only or the fastest increasing activity on a living room box. In reality its just one of many functions.

Google, Apple and Amazon are also muscling in on the movie and TV sectors and are probably in a place to exceed PlayStation and Xbox on their offering of popular and in-house services, all on a likely lower cost box. If gaming can also be awesome and highly accessible on the next generation of ARM/Snapdragon, PowerVR or NVIDIA platforms too, then I'm all for it and will gladly see the strengths of Google Play and other App Stores here.

Let it be. A well strategically placed device from any of these companies is likely to be a success and if they flop, give them a chance to do so, rather than instantly jumping to the status quo of consoles which are not the only option going forward. Or the only approach to our living room entertainment.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 10th August 2013 9:58pm

Posted:8 months ago

#6

David Amirian
Writer

59 3 0.1
its probably less about the games itself, and more about getting amazon instant video and, to a lesser extent, their amazon store in more homes.

Posted:8 months ago

#7

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
I dunno, like, why don't people just make their own platforms. It seems a little cheap with them all using Android with pretty much off the shelf hardware.

Guys like Nintendo, M$ and Sony develop entire operating systems and development tools to make things easier for the developer.

I'm no enemy of making use of existing technologies but whenever I see the mention of an "Android based console" being "developed" by a big name it just comes off a little insulting. What I'd appreciate is the type of standardisation you see in PC's, but more defined so that anyone with technical knowledge could build a satisfying device with ease and developers would be sure they are developing towards a fixed platform that isn't tied down to any vendor.

And the app store would be as open as the Internet. If you want you can use Wayne's app store, or Joe Bloggs' store. The only form of centralisation will be the inclusion of a few verification API's using companies like verisign to ensure people are who they say they are, etc. That will be the revolution, because sooner or later someone will develop the perfect App Store that makes good games rise to the top and spreads visibility across new titles so that there is a smaller gap between the most successful and least successful well produced titles.

That is how I'd like to see Android consoles operating in the future - pretty much like how the phones work. And now I come to think of it, you can already get devices like these off of ebay for like $100, imported from China. They've been doing them from the start.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 11th August 2013 12:56pm

Posted:8 months ago

#8

Gareth Lewis
Programmerist

12 6 0.5
The challenge for all these micro-console companies is *not* to deliver some Android-based h/w that can be connected to a tv - that's already been done by a lot of Chinese companies as other posters have already pointed out. The real challenge is to provide a suitable gaming infrastructure that will engage both gamers and developers, i.e. the business-side of the proposition. Firms like Amazon, Google and Apple seem to be far better placed for dealing with this as they all have form for running 'Apps as a Service' operations, unlike Ouya, Gamestick and so on.

Posted:8 months ago

#9

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
All we know is "Android device", "app store" and "some controller". I think it is safe to file Amazon's plans under "me too" and go on without bothering..

Posted:8 months ago

#10

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,118 888 0.8
I dunno, like, why don't people just make their own platforms. It seems a little cheap with them all using Android with pretty much off the shelf hardware.
Personally, I think this misses the point.

One thing that makes Android the force and the choice it is for a multitude of products today, is the fact that dozens of manufacturer's threw their weight and full support behind it, wanting a powerful, free, open OS platform in which they could achieve all their software visions.

If you look at Amazon, its not even as if they are using stock Android. The linux based OS is customised beyond all recognition and designed to almost exclusively push Amazon products and services. The are making what they wish of the operating system.
Guys like Nintendo, M$ and Sony develop entire operating systems and development tools to make things easier for the developer.
But in what way has that been an advantage to the developer or the consumer?

Outside the very basics, games, consoles have shown time and time again, cumbersome UIs, average Internet and (poor) browsing capabilities, iffy file management, large numbers of unsupported multi-media formats, peripherals and a number of other things.

The constant re-invention of the wheel doesn't really help a lot of us, only pushes the ideology or vision that manufacturer has at the time. Of course, we can hope and expect that PS3 will have a better OS than PS2, PS4 better than PS3, but there's an awful lot of overhead in the approach that has been taken.

Companies like Amazon or Ouya can adopt a solid, well developed OS platform using their own customisations and spend more time working on the digital distribution channels and so on, which ultimately are the important bits.

Posted:8 months ago

#11

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
But in what way has that been an advantage to the developer or the consumer?
What I'm getting at is that they actually create something. I've most certainly not missed the point, my only comment is in terms of what these guys are actually creating, and that these offerings from a lot of these companies is a cheap offering on their part. Think of the value ladder, Amazon have provided about 2% of the value of that product.

And in terms of the developer tools I mentioned, those are key. Android has its own tools, but that's not what I'm getting at, my comment was just in regards to what value they are actually creating here.

Now I'm all for Android itself, they have pretty much outflanked iOS and give it another ten years and you might find iOS being somewhat obsolete.
but there's an awful lot of overhead in the approach that has been taken.
That's just the cost of the system. Without it it might actually be a shit load more difficult to develop for. Surely they haven't just allocated a GB for the sake of just holding it, it performs shared functionality that saves every developer time from reinventing the wheel.
The constant re-invention of the wheel doesn't really help a lot of us
From the outside it probably seems that way. Though I would then ask the question, should all devices and operating systems be running on top of Android and Linux then? Not exactly something I would immediately disagree with, but it should be asked.

And if so, what would the lack of competition do to innovation? Are you aware of how much of Linux and Unix came into fruition? and why we use TCP/IP as opposed to much more sturdy technologies that would have provided higher connection speeds through its more efficient use of the networks as well as added security for free? If history has shown us anything, it's that there is not always a "best" solution, and even when there is it does not always win. Often the open technology wins, and sometimes the proprietary technology leads.

Posted:8 months ago

#12

Felix Leyendecker
Senior 3D Artist

184 196 1.1
I don't know. I think the idea of a dedicated set-top-box type multimedia device sounds a bit archaic to me.
Concerning media functionality, tablets are already more than capable enough of providing what people expect of such devices, streaming video, audio, etc.
Concerning games, a dedicated box seems pointless, unless you deliver the same quality of experience that the competition offers. And that involves serious funding of 1st party games, and designing a static platform for the long haul, not something that is upgraded every year. They wouldn't be able or willing to compete with the traditional console business model.

If cheap app-store $0.99 or f2p titles are their goal, what they should make is a, say, $50 docking station for the kindle fire that comes with a controller, and lets you hook it up to your TV or audio receiver. It would make more sense than yet another box that can do everything your existing devices are already doing.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Felix Leyendecker on 12th August 2013 2:32pm

Posted:8 months ago

#13

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,118 888 0.8
What I'm getting at is that they actually create something. I've most certainly not missed the point, my only comment is in terms of what these guys are actually creating
I don't see why they require special commendation in this just for creating a new proprietary OS. This is a practice repeated in technology again and again. It may seem to make sense for Sony or Nintendo, but if it doesn't make sense for Amazon or another company why create for the sake of it?

Why should we think any less of Amazon who are concerned more with making superior distribution channels? Which for the most part some would consider superior to what console companies are doing, on the digital front. I don't think its a big deal, we should look for what works. In Amazon's case, it doesn't make sense for them to spend years of R&D on an OS that will do the same or most likely less than an open source one they have already been using.
Amazon have provided about 2% of the value of that product.
Not if 40% of future consumers wish to buy all their products from what they may see as the best way to get them (through Amazon). That was a made up figure, but the value is not in the OS or proprietary chips but their offering as a distributor and store.

Look at Kindle and Kindle Fire. It doesn't make a blind bit of difference what the OS is, could have been something else altogether. People are ultimately buying it (over and above Nexus I might add) because of Amazon.
If history has shown us anything, it's that there is not always a "best" solution, and even when there is it does not always win.
I agree but making proprietary technology is a personal choice and not a choice these companies should be implored to do when for them its neither necessary nor does it hold the true value of the offering.

In my opinion, it makes no difference whether these devices are running Android or not, only that the OS makes a great foundation to achieve the desired goals. Android devices won't be the only offering mind you, after all, we have Apple out there, Microsoft and any other companies that still wish to push their own in-house technologies in devices.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 12th August 2013 2:39pm

Posted:8 months ago

#14

Edward Buffery
Pre-production Manager

145 92 0.6
So within a 12 months period we'll have likely seen released the Ouya, Shield, GameStick, Mojo, GamePop, something from Google and this Amazon console too. Though the number of apps available might be vast, this is ultimately a low average revenue per user market. I can't see there being room for more than 2 of the above 7 devices to remain profitable in the long-term, and those will likely be some combination of the first, the best, and the most widely marketed. OUYA has already got the first out spot, so which will turn out to be the best and which the most widely marketed? Amazon and Google clearly have a massive consumer base to market to if they're taking this seriously.

Posted:8 months ago

#15

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

422 361 0.9
@Adam: it's not about commendation. Again it's a cheap offering, as in, what many companies are actually doing is very little. That's it. And little differentiates one from the next other than the label and a few details that don't matter.

Now that in itself isn't a problem, I see no problem with Android being an omnipresent platform that anyone can produce. It creates an open market scenario in the hardware business, but I then don't see the small effort as news worthy. I mean, Halifax can pretty much create their own Android based console with next to no effort, just a tech intern and a budget for parts on eBay.

Again that's not a problem. But from where I'm standing the Android is like a flat-packed platform you can take home and assemble yourself and any retailer is more than welcome to assemble it and sell it pre-built, but let's not call them the savour of the living room or let our two hands hi-five each other on that account.

---

I guess I want to see some actual innovation. As for the Android platform: well I quite like the associated tools you can work with and the code ecosystem that's available (since it works with Java code).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 13th August 2013 8:52pm

Posted:8 months ago

#16

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