Amazon is jumping into the TV game by partnering with three brands —
Westinghouse, Seiki, and Element — to launch 4K televisions that use its Fire TV interface.
These brands are all owned by Chinese electronics company Tongfang, and will introduce their Amazon TVs later this year, at sizes ranging from 43 to 65 inches, all with a voice remote that can use Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant.
That means that consumers will be able to talk to their TVs to search for their favourite shows, as well as to find out the weather or to order more diapers for their kids.
This move by Amazon shows how the battle for streaming TV is increasingly moving away from add-on accessories such as a set top “box,” and toward direct integration with your TV. Roku and Google already have similar programs in place, and in an interview with Business Insider last year, Roku’s CEO Anthony Wood said it was the most important part of his business.
“We sell more streaming players than anyone, but it’s also probably not the most important part of our business,” he said. “The most important part of our distribution business is TV licensing.” Roku has deals with TV makers like TCL and Haier, while Google has them with Vizio, Sony, and others.
At the time, Wood said that he didn’t see Amazon becoming a big player in the licensing market.
“I think they will try, but they won’t being successful,” he said. “Because no retailers will carry Amazon products … Because they hate Amazon. Walmart is never going to carry an Amazon TV, ever.”
Amazon says it will sell the TVs on its own site, in addition to select retail stores, according to Variety. But the question remains whether Amazon will get anywhere near the retail placement of its competitors — and whether, in the long run, that will matter.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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