There appears to be much more interest in the announcement of the new Fire TV Cube than Amazon’s announcement of their last new streaming media player, the Fire TV 3. To confirm this, I went through my logs to compare initial pre-order trends of both devices. According to my stats, during the first two days after the devices were announced, pre-orders for the Fire TV Cube are more than double those seen for the Fire TV 3. Obviously, my figures are not an accurate depiction of overall sales, since my data only represents visitors of this site, and there are other factors to consider when comparing sales figures of the two devices, such as the Prime member discount that was only offered for the Fire TV Cube. However, it does confirm what I’ve been seeing in the site comments here and other discussions around the web, which is that initial impressions of the Fire TV Cube are vastly better than those of the Fire TV 3. The reason for this has a lot to do with the state of the Fire TV lineup as a whole and its timing.
With the Fire TV 3, Amazon seemed to focus almost entirely on lowering the price of the device, relative to its competition and the Fire TV it replaced. The Fire TV 3 does have improved 4K playback and the addition of HDR support, compared to the previous generation Fire TV, but it didn’t add much else while also losing several capabilities. The Fire TV 3 is by no means a bad product, but when consumers already have the Fire TV Stick as a fantastic option for budget-conscious shoppers, those interested in a next-generation Fire TV probably wanted more out of the device than to just save a bit of money.
Despite having very similar specs to the Fire TV 3, the Fire TV Cube clearly stands out as a flagship device, whereas the Fire TV 3 is perceived by many as just a small step up from the Fire TV Stick. This is thanks to the Fire TV Cube’s notable new features, like hands-free control and universal remote capabilities, as well as the return of lost features, like expandable storage and included Ethernet. Even though the Fire TV Cube is nearly twice the price of the Fire TV 3, consumers seem far more interested in the Fire TV Cube, proving that shoppers are willing to pay a premium for flagship features and aren’t just interested in the cheapest device that includes a bare-bones set of features.
While it might seem like I’m calling out the Fire TV 3 as a mistake, I’m absolutely not. Once you know a little more about the intended Fire TV lineup, you’ll see that the timing was the issue and not the product. I’ve been told, and shown evidence, by trusted sources that are familiar with Amazon’s Fire TV plans, that the original plan was for the Fire TV 3 and the Fire TV Cube to be released at the same time. That is why I called the Fire TV 3 a mid-tier device back in March 2017 when I first leaked its existence and why I said both devices were being released in 2017 when I first leaked the Fire TV Cube last September. In that article, I said the top-tier Fire TV, which we now know as the Fire TV Cube, might be delayed into early 2018. That delay happened and grew to become the mid-2018 release for the Fire TV Cube that was just announced. The delay forced the Fire TV 3 into the role of being the flagship Fire TV device for several months, which appears to be a role that it was never intended to fill.
While it’s a little later than expected, the Fire TV line-up is now how it was originally intended to be and finally makes sense. There’s the Fire TV Stick, which gives shoppers on a budget a fantastic option. There’s the Fire TV Cube, which is a distinctly unique and premium device that is worthy of the flagship title. Lastly, there’s the Fire TV 3, which fills out the lineup as a mid-tier option for those who want a bit more than the Fire TV Stick, namely 4K and HDR support, but without all the bells and whistles of the Fire TV Cube.