Amazon may have originally planned to make a television when developing the Fire TV


While examining images of the upcoming new Fire TV interface, I compared them to the unused alternative interfaces created by the designer of the current Fire TV interface. In doing so, I discovered the original interface designer had uploaded photos of focus group testing during the Fire TV’s development. The prototype remotes above, along with an “Amazon TV” branded boot up screen, seem to imply the original product was a television, instead of a set top box.


The “Amazon TV” boot up screen above was never used in the final product, but it looks very similar to the Fire TV’s boot up screen. If there is any doubt that this image was the original boot logo, the designer named the image file “opening-logo” on his website.


These shots show the focus group testing room and monitoring area behind a one way mirror. Front and center in the testing room is a TV with the three prototype remotes on a small table. If the product being tested were a set top box, I would think they would have the TV sitting on a table next to a prototype Fire TV box, instead of having just a TV be the focus.


The most telling clue that Amazon’s original product was a TV is the inclusion of power, volume, and mute buttons on all three prototype remotes. EXIF data of some of the images reveal they were taken in May 2012. Around that time there were very strong rumors that Apple was working on a TV of their own, so it would make sense that Amazon was originally focused on making a TV instead of a set top box.

Regardless of what Amazon originally set out to make, there’s a good chance they’re considering releasing a TV now, or at least making the Fire TV’s operating system available to TV manufacturers, due to recent signs of TV tuner support in Fire OS. The growing prevalence of Android TV, Roku OS, and even Chromecast’s operating system, as the sole interface of new TVs being manufactured, threatens to make all streaming set top boxes and sticks unnecessary.

  1. tech3475 says:

    Alternative theory:

    Amazon TV was just the name, similar to Google TV or Apple TV.

    The remotes including the volume, etc. could have been there for convenience so you only need one remote to control two devices (similar to several other remotes I have for Sat TV and BD players).

  2. Tony Ramirez says:

    With the success of the Fire TV I am surprised they have not released a Fire TV set yet like Roku currently does.

  3. Robert says:

    I’m not worried, not yet. My AFTV1 is still relevant. When there’s a TV that replaces my computer and provides all the apps I need for entertainment and productivity, then I’ll be concerned. As long as we can connect a keyboard and download or sideload just about anything to the Fire TV, it will resist obsolescence. Can’t say that about Roku or Apple TV.

  4. Joe D says:

    No channel keys, was never going to be a physical TV. This is a ridiculous amount of speculation.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Absolutely this post contains a ridiculous amount of speculation, but who knows at what point in the development process these pictures were taken. The remotes don’t have menu or back buttons either, so missing channel buttons is not a guarantee they weren’t testing a TV at some point. It all depends on what part of the software they were testing with the focus groups, and I’d think that flipping channels was low, or nonexistent, on their list of things to test.

      • Christopher Loughrey says:

        Just because it has no back button it wouldn’t imply they were not Fire TV remote prototypes. The back button and menu button may have been buttons they released they required later on in development when the system itself had reached me more advanced development stage. This is probably at a very early stage of development and these are just very rough prototypes. Here they are focused on the remotes themselves and the actual experience of using them in a living room environment. There may not have been any system itself here, the TV may have been used as a prop and this was simply about how the remotes felt while sitting back in front of a TV.

  5. Christopher Loughrey says:

    I don’t believe that at all. The prototype remotes look like typical streaming box remotes, there’s no number pad and other buttons that you’d require on a TV remote. this wasn’t a demonstration to promote the Fire TV, it was testing phase where they were trying to recreate the conditions of how the fire TV would be used in a customer’s home, hence the furniture and living room look. The whole point of the Fire TV is that it’s discreet and hidden away, that’s the whole point of them using Bluetooth instead of a direct line of sight option like IR.

  6. xnamkcor says:

    Android has valume and mute functions. Tivo remotes have volume and mute buttons. There were third party addons that added such functions. Those buttons are in no way an indicator of if it were not planned to be a set top box. And of course they showed the focus group the remote. 98% of the user experience is the remote, not the box. “Here, look. It’s a box”.

  7. AFTVnews says:

    Well, you win some and you lose some. Seems like I’ve lost this one. This post started life as “Fire TV remote prototypes had power and volume buttons,” but then I let me my speculation get the better of me. I should have just kept things simple. Sorry about that.

    • kilnvideo says:

      well, you certainly started a discussion.

      while I’d consider a lot of the speculation specious at best, you did have interesting source material.

      surprising it never surfaced earlier.

  8. Joe says:

    What Amazon should have done (or should do) is partner with TV manufacturers to include Fire TV OS on the TVs, like Roku and Google are doing.

  9. Michael says:

    If Amazon was trying to reimagine the way TV works, a channel up/down or numeric input is unnecessary. Using an Echo and an interface such as a Harmony Hub, you could simply tell Alexa what to do. Like Alexa, turn on TV. Alexa Channel 28 point 2, Alexa Volume up. A device like a Channel Master DVR+ can also be connected to the Hub. So Alexa record channel 6 point one at Nine o’clock.

    As the Echo/Dot/Tab/Fire TV gains skills with Alexa, a remote control could become so 90’s. At least IMHO.

    • Christopher Loughrey says:

      I have the Echo set up with Harmony but I still refer the remote over asking Alexa to do. She’s great for lihts etc. but I find it much similar just to use the Harmony remote considering how easy it is to get to channels with the favourites feature.

    • Jake says:

      Can you imagine the nightmare of a totally voice controlled television? As decent as Alexa and Siri are in 2016 I can’t even fathom problems would’ve had 2 years ago.

  10. RowMan says:

    While a streaming system built into the TV can be convenient, I prefer separate pieces. If something gies wrong with my Fire TV box, I can replace it quickly. If something goes wrong with the streaming part of the TV, it’s likely I’ll need to send the whole TV out for repair. I like smart boxes paired with dumb TVs.

    • Christopher Loughrey says:

      I agree, I much prefer them to be separate. I also find smart TVs like the Roku TV to be way over-priced and you don’t have the freedom to chose whatever HD TV you want like you can when it’s a streaming box. it also allows for a cheap upgrade when a new generation is introduced. TVs depreciate very quickly and is a very costly upgrade.

  11. John says:

    No need to apologize.

  12. TechyChris says:

    The problem I have with these “tandem setups” – streaming box OS physically mounted inside a tv chassis is what happens when one breaks down? Now you are out 2 devices, best to keep things separate and have the versatility to change out your streamer if needed, I think.

  13. Keith says:

    I don’t think they had plans to make a TV but who knows…supposedly Apple was planning on making a TV then they scrapped it entirely.
    Its not a terrible idea but then again you can buy a set with Roku built in for pretty cheap. People tend to keep their TVs till they’re no longer functioning or obsolete and they want to upgrade, go bigger etc. Unless price point is really good its hard for me to imagine it being a big seller.

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