Amazon's Fire TV streaming devices are still popular despite not having a YouTube app

AmazonThe Amazon Fire TV Cube
  • Amazon‘s Fire TV streaming devices have 30 million monthly active users, the company told Business Insider at CES 2019.
  • That popularity is despite the fact that Amazon Fire TV devices don’t have a YouTube app – a casualty of a streaming feud between Amazon and the Google-owned YouTube.
  • Google’s own Chromecast streaming platform had 55 milion monthly active users as of October 2017.

Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices have 30 million monthly active users, Amazon Fire TV marketing director Jennifer Prenner told Business Insider at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

That means that Amazon Fire TV devices beat out Roku, which said that it had 27 million monthly active users as of the fourth quarter of 2018. Still, neither stack up to Google’s media streaming hardware platforms, including Chromecast and Android TV, were at 55 million monthly active users as of October 2017.

Fire TV Cube Living RoomAmazonThe Amazon Fire TV Cube.

As of July 2017, Apple TV was lagging behind Google, Roku, and Amazon in terms of users who use the streaming device at least once a month, according to Variety. Barring a major turnaround, this makes it likely that Apple TV has fewer monthly active users than its rivals.

The only reason for any surprise in the popularity of Amazon Fire TV is the lack of any YouTube app, denying users an easy way to use the most popular video site on the planet. As of May 2018,YouTube had 1.8 billion monthly active users. The missing app is the result of an ongoing dispute between Amazon and Google. Meanwhile, the YouTube app is available on Roku, Google, and Apple streaming devices.

Despite missing an official app from YouTube, there are several workarounds to watch YouTube on a Fire TV. Chief among them: The Fire TV has a web browser, so users can simply go to YouTube’s website and watch away. It’s less pleasant than a regular app – you can’t cue up a video on your smartphone, as you can with other streaming services on the Fire TV. And you can’t control playback with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. But it works.

Youtube app apple tvDave Smith/Business InsiderThe YouTube app running on an Apple TV.

Even without YouTube, Amazon Fire TV users are likely finding value in the gadgets’ other features, like the ability to use it to talk to the Alexa agent. Amazon’s Fire TV devices have the same functionality as most of the retailer’s own Amazon Echo smart speakers.

The Fire TV Cube, especially, comes with Amazon’s far-field microphones, which have the same kinds of microphones as an Echo, meaning it can pick up your voice across the room. And Fire TV sticks come with remotes with built-in microphones for summoning Alexa. This means Fire TV devices can be used to set reminders and calendar entries, check weather, news, and traffic, and control your smart home devices with your voice.

One of the benefits of having Amazon’s Alexa in a streaming device is using Alexa’s artificial intelligence smarts to search for movies and TV shows. You can ask Alexa to find a specific movie without knowing which app it might be streaming on, for example. You can also ask Alexa to control your TV and switch the channel, too. The Fire TV Cube can even be configured to control your cable box.

Ultimately, it’s clear that Amazon is succeeding despite not getting any love from YouTube. Still, it’s equally clear that not having the app isn’t doing it any favours, either.

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