Speculation is that Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is preparing to launch a game console/TV set-top type device that will resemble the so-called Chromecast dongle. That is, the device will be less like a set-top box and more like a stick with an USB or HDMI style connector. It will run on Google’s Android software and may support streaming full PC game titles, which could allow it to compete with consoles like Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox and Sony Corp.’s (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation.
Roku also has a device of similar design, and the Amazon device also will compete with video-streaming devices from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG). But the way the Amazon device offers streaming gaming could provide it with a huge competitive advantage over its rivals. In addition, it could offer another incentive for users to sign on to Amazon Prime, after the company last week raised the price of an annual membership to $99 per year. And the company is likely to use this device to promote its streaming Amazon Instant Video and Amazon MP3 offerings.
The device is still in the testing stages though, so it is not yet clear what features will be included in the final version. It may ship as early April. Reportedly it will be sold not only through the Amazon.com website, but retail outlets such as Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) as well.