The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are great devices. Amazon doesn’t reveal specific sales figures, but they’re often estimated to be the best-selling media players in the nation. With Android TV, Chromecast, and Roku now shipping as the operating system of some new TVs, Amazon’s success in the media streaming market could be in jeopardy if they don’t make a TV running Fire OS, or at least license out the operating system for other TV manufacturers to use on their TVs.
I personally don’t care what “smart” capabilities a TV has because I’d much rather have an external device, that I can easily and inexpensively upgrade, handle the media playback. Many people, however, are perfectly content with using the small selection of sluggish apps that come pre-installed on their “smart” TVs, if it means they can watch Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube without having to buy anything else. As the capabilities of TV operating systems progress, even more people will be content with the default capabilities of their TV.
Streaming box operating systems are starting to find a new home as the main interface for TVs. Sharp and Sony have adopted Android TV, Vizio has gone all in on Chromecast, and TCL is using Roku to power some of their TVs. Those three operating systems are far superior than anything found on other “smart” TVs. Once more manufacturers drop their in-house software for those 3rd-party solutions, and once those TVs start penetrating more and more living rooms, even more people will find their TV’s default capabilities good enough to not need external streaming devices.
Regardless of how great future versions of the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are, Amazon is going to find themselves left behind once most TVs are running modern streaming operating systems that are on par with Fire OS. I wouldn’t expect Amazon to manufacture their own TV from the start, although one with an array of always listening microphones in the bezel for Alexa would be amazing. At the very least, Amazon needs to start talking to TV manufactures and convince them to make TVs that use Fire OS as their main operating system. This will ensure that Amazon has a chance at maintaining its piece of the streaming media market when a “dumb” TV in someone’s living room is as rare to see as a flip phone is today.