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Amazon working on set-top box to push original content?

Amazon’s next step into hardware will be a connected set-top box to rival the likes of Apple TV, Boxee and Roku and will launch later this year, a Bloomberg report claimed on Wednesday evening.

The box, which would plug into TV sets and allow users to stream video over the internet, would give users easy access to the Amazon Instant Video service or Lovefilm in the UK and could arrive as soon as this autumn.

Amazon has significantly stepped up its streaming operation in recent years and is now, like Netflix, making a push to become a destination for original, first-run content.

Just last week the company unleashed 14 TV shows pilots which had been produced in house by Amazon Studios (8 comedies and 6 children’s programmes).

The pilots are free for all to watch and Amazon is asking folks to take on the role of Hollywood executives and vote on which should be made, because deciding which are to become fully-fledged series.

The company is investing hundreds of millions on the original shows and archive content as it seeks to rival not just Netflix, but traditional TV networks like HBO, BBC, Sky and everyone in between.

Amazon’s film and TV selections are already available on a host of connected devices, smartphones, tablets and set-top boxes, but it’s easy to see the advantages of having an own-branded solution.

It would allow Amazon to put its content at the front and centre of the experience as it has with the hugely popular Kindle Fire tablet. As Amazon also offers on-demand movies and television shows to rent or buy, a living room device would allow the company to offer those products directly from the television set, just as Apple has with iTunes and Apple TV.

One would also think the company’s App Store would also feature on any set-top box, allowing buyers to play games and access services from their television set, a temptation Apple has so far resisted.

Given Amazon’s track record with hardware, it’s also extremely likely that any set-top box would cost significantly less than the £100 cost of the Apple TV hockey puck-like device.

According to the report, the company will roll out the set-top box this autumn. Perhaps alongside new Kindle Fire tablets and the oft-predicted Kindle Phone?

Via Bloomberg Businessweek

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