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.