Coming Soon: Kindle TV?

Amazon TV logo

Amazon’s exploring a new technology, according to a new article by Business Week. It will send content to your TV screen, streaming the same movies and TV shows that you watch on your Kindle Fire. But what’s really interesting is it’s being developed in a California research facility known as Lab126. It’s the same lab that developed Amazon’s Kindle — and it’s got me wondering if someday, we’ll be seeing ebooks on our television screen!

In the article, one venture capitalist also raised another interesting possibility: maybe Amazon’s set-top box could also display the video from the Kindle Fire apps Amazon’s selling in their Android app store. Imagine playing Temple Run or Angry Birds on a wide-screen TV. “They have a ton of content,” the venture capitalist tells Business Week, plus “an existing billing relationship with millions of users, an existing Android app marketplace that could be leveraged on the box, a reputation for solid hardware products and a terrific channel through which to promote the product…” And if Amazon is displaying all digital content on the box, it’d also be easy to stretch out the text from your Kindle ebooks so they fit on the screen.

Business Week suggested that “Kindle TV” was the obvious name for Amazon’s product, and they interviewed three different people who were “familiar with the project”. Amazon themselves refused to comment, and did not approve any of the interviews — but the article notes that Amazon has been building up its library of video content. Besides securing the exclusive online rights to popular TV shows “Downton Abbey”, Amazon’s obviously been working hard to create their own original TV shows, which they’re currently broadcasting online. (See tinyurl.com/WatchAmazonTV ) Monday Amazon even bragged that the most-watched TV shows in their Instant Video store this weekend were these “Amazon Originals” — which claimed 8 of the top 10 spots!

There’s a funny story about Lab126, the facility where Amazon is reportedly developing their new set-top box. “[T]here was never a Lab125 or a Lab124…” remembers Jason Merkoski. In his recently-released memoir about the launch of the Kindle, he calls the name of the facility a “geeky in-joke” by the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. “The ‘126’ part stems from the fact that ‘A’ is the first letter of the alphabet and ‘Z’ is the 26th, a techno-geeky homage to the ‘A to Z’ development center!”

But Amazon’s newest project will have some highly-experienced people on their team, according to Business Week, including a former top engineer from TiVo and a former hardware architect from ReplayTV (one of the first companies in Silicon Valley to release a DVR). Ultimately Amazon’s new set-top box will compete with Apple TV, the Roku, and even the video capabilities that are built into the Playstation 3 and Xbox, so it’s a competition with some very high stakes. Business Week suggested that “Kindle TV” was the obvious name for the product, but I still remember the slogan that MTV used when they were trying to earn a place on cable TV services. So maybe Amazon should just replace the M with an A, and hope that their customers think it’s just as catchy in the 21st century.

“I want my A-TV.”

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