Amazon's box can change entertainment landscape

Online retail giant Amazon is looking to play a vital role in your living room.

According to tech blog Re/code, Amazon's long-awaited set-top TV streaming box, set to be released this March, will take advantage of the site's Instant Video service. The box, code-named "Cinnamon," would run a modified version of Google's Android operating system, one similar to Amazon's Android-based Kindle e-reader.

The box would compete directly with Apple TV and streamer Roku and would take advantage of Amazon's recent foray into original programming. The site's Instant Video service has more than 150,000 selections and gives it a unique edge over the competition.

"Amazon, now, they've got original content, and with the set-top box, they've got something Apple TV doesn't have. They also have something Netflix doesn't have. Netflix doesn't have a set-top box, Apple TV doesn't have original content. Amazon could be sort of a big player there." (ViaBloomberg)

But insiders at CNBC are worried a possible price increase from $20 to $40 for Instant Video could squash enthusiasm for the device. "If they do that, it potentially makes their video offering a little less compelling because you have to be a prime member to see this stuff. So it'll be really interesting to see how they do that."

It's also possible Amazon's box will double as a gaming system, with the retailer buying Double Helix Games in early February and even posting an ad on LinkedIn for a graphics developer in January.

Security analyst Michael Pachter tells The Wall Street Journal that the move isn't surprising. "This fits into their vision of dominating the competition in every area," ​ he says. 

In typical Amazon fashion, the company itself declined to comment.

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