Over at Engadget, Ben Gilbert notes that Amazon isn’t trying to create a console with its svelte new Fire TV. Indeed, despite long-running proclamations by the Xbox team about how much non-gaming applications account for the console’s usage , roughly 80 percent of a console’s value proposition comes down to its gaming. The remainder down to entertainment, mostly broadband video. Why? Because it’s silly to pay $400 for a box that can deliver the same (or less) broadband content than an Apple TV or Roku that costs a quarter of the price or less.
The Fire TV, of course, hits that lower price, but with more impressive specs, and Amazon is putting that extra horsepower to work on games. Indeed, the Fire TV controller is a separate purchase, which helps the retailer create a higher-value microconsole proposition than entrants such as the crowddfunded OUYA (now retreating from hardware) and GameStick. But the real advantage to the positioning is that Amazon gets to mitigate its risk in the unproven territory of casual gaming TV boxes, a frontier that Roku had set out to conquer with the otherwise successful Roku 3. That said, Amazon has assets here that Roku never had and continues to lack.
No, the Fire TV is not a console. In fact, it turns the relative games-video value proposition of a console upside down.