Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Does Amazon Have Its Own Apple TV Plan?

We know that Amazon will unveil new devices tomorrow, including a replacement for the Kindle Fire it stopped selling last week.

What about a gadget that isn’t a tablet or an e-reader?

There has been lots of speculation that Amazon has big Hollywood plans to announce tomorrow, because it’s holding the event in Los Angeles. Maybe!

But if so, lots of Hollywood folks I’ve talked to are in the dark about those purported plans. And just because a big tech company holds an event in LA doesn’t mean it is holding a Hollywood event — see Microsoft’s Surface a few months ago.

So here’s another theory: Maybe Jeff Bezos will show off a video box for the living room.

I’ve heard this one floated a couple times today, but not from anyone who claims to have firsthand knowledge of Amazon’s plans.

But people who do know what they’re talking about tell me that Amazon made an offer to buy Roku, the Web TV box maker that competes with Apple TV, earlier this year. Roku ended up raising a big $45 million round led by News Corp. and BSkyB instead (News Corp. also owns this Web site).

So if Amazon was willing to buy Roku earlier this year, perhaps they’ve built their own device instead.

An alternate theory: Rather than unveil a full-fledged Web video box tomorrow, Jeff Bezos will take a half step by showing off some kind of docking device that Kindle Fire users could plug in to get their video onto their sets.

And no matter what hardware Bezos shows off tomorrow, at some point he’s going to have to come up with some way of getting all of the video Amazon is buying onto your flatscreen.

Or else he’ll end up ceding the living room to everyone else. Microsoft has been there the longest, and Apple is making a bit of progress itself. Netflix has tried to pull it off by installing itself on every possible device that could get near a living room. And even Google has taken a crack at it.

Of course, Google promptly retreated once it realized the Nexus Q was a dud. And Bezos may want to wait rather than bring out a half-baked device of his own. But I won’t be surprised to see him tackle this soon.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald