Prime time? Amazon set-top TV box reportedly in the works

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Not content to let Apple, Google, and Roku run away with the living room, a fresh rumor says Amazon plans to release a set-top box just in time for the holidays. The box, code-named “Cinnamon” according to The Wall Street Journal, would be around the size of a Roku box or Apple TV.

There were no pricing details—not even guesses. Apple TV carries a $99 price tag, while the cheapest Roku box you can get is $50 Roku LT.

As you might expect, Amazon’s set-top box would tie into the company’s video streaming service, Amazon Instant Video. But the Amazo-box would also offer music and video streaming apps from other providers, as well as offer a limited number of games, the Journal says.

Amazon reportedly hopes to boost its Prime membership with the set-top box. Prime is a $79 per year subscription that was originally meant to offer special deals on shipping, but has since morphed into a much broader offering. In addition to reduced costs on shipping, Prime also offers its users free streaming of around 41,000 movies and TV episodes along with access to a Kindle lending library stocked with more than 350,000 titles.

A Roku Box.

An Amazon set-top box purpose built for Amazon video streaming could make the Prime deal even more appealing, especially if the purported Amazon TV is cheaper than its competitors.

Presumably, Amazon’s set-top box would be based on Android, as its Kindle Fire products are, making the box potentially compatible with apps already in its Android Appstore. At the very least, an Android-based Amazon TV would make it easy for Google TV app creators, even in their limited numbers, to port apps to Amazon’s platform.

As with any rumor, the Amazon set-top box is not a done deal and may never come to fruition. However, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Amazon’s designs on the living rooms and dens across the U.S.

In April, both the Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Amazon hoped to launch a set-top box by the fall. Those earlier rumors came with even less detail than the Journal’s current report. But it certainly seems like Amazon is at least seriously mulling a run at the set-top box market.

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