Amazon is reportedly going to start selling a video streaming box starting in April.
It will enter a very crowded market. Apple sells the Apple TV, Roku makes a bunch of video streaming boxes, and Google makes the Chromecast, a streaming dongle. Microsoft doesn’t have a dedicated video streamer, but it has Xbox, which does the same.
Tech companies have been trying to attack the TV for years now, and so far they have little to show for it. Even Steve Jobs, who cracked most other major consumer technologies, failed to deliver a definitive breakthrough product.
The new batch of video streaming devices are more popular than ever, but none of them are particularly revolutionary or game changing.
Why is that?
In 2010, Steve Jobs had the best analysis of the TV industry we’ve ever seen. It’s just as accurate today as it was then. In a nutshell, these boxes add another layer of interface and another remote control, and it’s just a mess for consumers.
When you see Amazon, Google, and even Apple, release new video streaming boxes, keep this in mind:
“The problem with innovation in the television industry is the go to market strategy.
The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everybody a set top box for free, or for $US10 a month. And that pretty much squashes innovation because no one is willing to buy a set top box.
Ask TiVo. Ask Replay TV. Ask Roku, Ask Vudu, Ask us, Ask Google in a few months. Sony’s tried, Panasonic’s tried, we’ve all tried. So, all you can do is add a box onto the TV system.
You can say … I’ll add another little box with another one. You end up with a table full of remotes, cluster full of boxes, bunch of UIs.
The only way that’s ever gonna change is if you really go back toy square one and you tear up the set top box and design it with a consistent UI and deliver it to the customer in a way they’re willing to pay for it. Right now there’s no way to do that. So that’s the problem with the TV market.
We decided, do we want a better TV or a better phone? The phone won out because there was no way to get it to market. What do we want more? A better tablet or a better TV? Well, probably a better tablet.
But it doesn’t matter because there’s no way to get a TV to market. The TV is going to lose until there is a viable go to market strategy, otherwise you’re just making another TiVo.
That make sense?
It’s not a problem of technology, it’s not a problem of vision, it’s a fundamental go-to-market problem.
There isn’t a cable operator that’s national, there’s a bunch of operators. And it’s not like there’s GSM, where you build a phone and it works in all these other countries. No every single country has different standards. It’s very ‘tower of babble-ish’, no, that’s not the right word. Balkanized.
I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out. But when we say Apple TV is a hobby, that’s why we use that phrase.”
And here’s the video of his comments:
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.