For the most part, I try not to speculate on things with my posts. I primarily list the facts about a topic, along with some relevant information, and keep my opinion to a minimum. This post is a break from the norm and mostly speculation. Here are some reason why I think the next generation Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick is probably right around the corner.
Reason 1: “Amazon AFTS” Leak
This is the obvious one. A month ago, we saw a mysterious Amazon device pop up in the logs of a benchmark utility. It designated itself as the “Amazon AFTS”, which many speculate to be an initialism for “Amazon Fire TV Stick”. It also had characteristics unique to a set top box/stick, mainly that it was an Android device but did not have a camera, accelerometer, proximity sensor, and several other features you would expect to see if the device were a smartphone or tablet.
Reason 2: Sales
It’s not so much that the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick have been going on sale recently that is an indication of a new device around the corner. It’s the characteristics of these sales. People have pointed to the Fire TV Stick’s Prime Day sale as an indicator that Amazon is trying to clear stock for the next generation. I don’t agree with that.
Amazon wants to pull people further and further into their Prime membership ecosystem, and selling the Fire TV Stick at cost is a great way to do that. I would imagine that most Prime members have joined for the free 2-day shipping and don’t watch any Amazon Prime Instant Video content. It’s bad business for Amazon to shell out billions of dollars to acquire content that most of their members aren’t using. Amazon wants to get Fire TV Sticks in the hands of all Prime members so they’ll use Prime Instant Video and have more reasons to stay a Prime member. That was the point for putting the Fire TV Stick on sale on Prime Day, not to clear out stock. If the intention was to clear out stock, it doesn’t entirely make sense to limit it to Prime members.
The main sale that indicates to me that a new device is on its way is the one day 3rd-party retailer sale for the Fire TV Stick that occured on Monday. It’s clear that there has always been coordination from Amazon or between retailers for when the Fire TV goes on sale. When these sales come around, it has always been for several days at a time and has always been for the same sale price across all retailers. That is, until Monday’s Fire TV Stick sale. For the first time we saw a break of both of those trends. The sale only lasted one day instead of several days, and more importantly, for the first time with any sale, each retailer seemed to dictate their own price. We saw $24, $24.99, $26.99, and $29 prices for the Stick. To me, that indicates the retailer is pricing the device based on how many they have and how easily they’ve been able to sell them. It’s as if Amazon gave them the go ahead to clear out stock at whatever price they choose for one day only.
Reason 3: History and Timing
The Amazon Fire TV has joined the first generation Kindle and the Fire Phone as one of three Amazon devices to not be updated a year after its release. Every Kindle e-book reader after the first one, and every single Fire tablet have seen updated models come out a year after they were released. It’s understandable for the first generation Kindle since it was Amazon’s foray into selling hardware. We only just passed the Fire Phone’s release date, so Amazon could still release a new Fire Phone in the next week or so and still be considered a 1 year update. Considering the Fire Phone’s underwhelming sales, it seems more likely that Amazon is taking more time to release a vastly different product than just an incrementally different device. Since the first Kindle and Fire Phone seem to have good reason for not receiving 1 year hardware updates, why is it that we didn’t see a new Fire TV, which seems to be a successful product, released around April, a year after the first Fire TV was released?
The answer to that question lies within the Fire TV Stick. The Stick’s popularity seems to have surprised even Amazon, as indicated by their inability to keep the device in stock for the first 3 months that it was available. The Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick were released 8 months apart. It makes more sense for both devices to be updated at the same time, the same way Amazon likes to update all of their tablets at the same time. So the Fire TV’s hardware update, if it will happens, seems to have shifted forward to be in sync with the Fire TV Stick’s release date. I say “if it will happen” because there’s a very good chance we’ll see only one new Fire TV device that replaces both current models.
That brings us to the Fire TV Stick which was announced October 2014 and released November 2014. We’re creeping closer and closer to the 1 year anniversary of those dates, so it makes sense for Amazon to keep up with their trend of annual releases and release a new Fire TV Stick soon. Since the Fire TV Stick is Amazon’s “fastest selling device” ever, and the Fire TV’s hardware updated may be delayed because of it, it wouldn’t be unusual to release a new Fire TV Stick a bit earlier than the 1 year mark.