Amazon was expected to reveal a set-top box along with its new Kindle Fire tablets weeks ago, but that didn't happen. Instead, the press was greeted with three new tablets and new questions about when the device and Amazon's rumored smartphone would materialize.
The latest talk was that Amazon has been courting developers to create exclusive games, or to tailor their current titles for the Android media device. Now 9to5Google is reporting that Amazon has trademarked the name "Firetube" in the United States and Canada. The name points to an Android "Fire" device focused on delivering digital content like movies and TV shows to the "Tube."
However, immediately after reports of the trademark surfaced, sources told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Amazon is shooting to launch the Apple TV / Roku rival before the 2013 holidays. The paper was told that the device resembles a Roku player, and is capable of installing media apps to provide content from a variety of sources. This device will also serve as a delivery vehicle for content provided through the Amazon Prime subscription and purchases/rentals via Amazon Instant Video.
Internally, the device is known as "Cinnamon," and the "Fire" aspect of the trademark name indicates that the set-top-box may rely on Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito," meaning the Firetube box will presumably have access to Amazon's Android-based Appstore. There, users can download apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu and other media companies. And if previous reports are correct, high-quality Android games as well.
"Fire OS includes the core email and productivity apps, but we take a different approach when it comes to content," said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "Our content-first approach shapes the design of Fire OS—the home screen makes the most recent content items available instantly on the Carousel or Grid and customers can move between their media libraries both on the device and in the cloud with a simple tap. We've also deeply integrated Amazon services directly into Mojito, such as the Mayday button, Second Screen, X-Ray for Movies & TV shows, and now X-Ray for Music."
Sources claim that Amazon hasn't set a confirmed date, nor has the company discussed possible pricing. However, over the last several weeks, Amazon has reportedly approached media app developers and cable television providers for partnerships in the device rollout. Many of these developers have been given a mid-October deadline to submit apps that can work on the Firetube hardware.
Sources also told the paper that Firetube will be similar to Apple TV in that users will be able to control the device with apps installed on smartphones and tablets. Last month Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos even demonstrated how the new Kindle Fire HDX tablets can function like a remote control, including the ability to sling streaming media to Internet-connected TVs. However, the company may offer a separate remote control as well.
"If Amazon can produce a box that will have a truly complete package of streaming sources, that would be very compelling," said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst. "This fits into their vision of dominating the competition in every area."
Sources told the paper that Firetube could be delayed or even shelved due to performance, financial or other reasons.