Amazon is doubling down on its Fire TV business, adding newer, cheaper models
Amazon (AMZN) is doubling down on its Fire TV business.
Today, the company announced that it's expanding its Fire TV line, launching both new sizes of the high-end Fire TV Omni QLED Series and introducing a more affordable option, called the Fire TV 2-Series. Additionally, Amazon unveiled that it's sold more than 200 million Fire TV devices.
The Fire TV expansion is notable because Amazon's in a moment where it's actively looking for cuts in many other areas of its business. Earlier this week, Amazon announced it would slash another 9,000 jobs, adding to the 18,000 layoffs the company revealed back in January.
This set of layoffs will affect some of Amazon's most well-known businesses, including Twitch, which Amazon acquired in 2014 for $970 million, and its massive cloud division, Amazon Web Services (AWS). The cuts will also center on Amazon's People Experience and Technology Solutions, or PXT, unit and its advertising business. Amazon's slashing-and-burning is also extending beyond personnel — The company has paused construction on its much-discussed HQ2 in Virginia.
Expansion and competition
However, Fire TV, like a few other areas of Amazon's business, is pressing on and seems to be in expansion mode for the foreseeable future. Though Fire TV launched in 2014 in the U.S.; this is nevertheless one of biggest announcements to date centered on Fire TV, as the product will now also be available to consumers in the U.K., Germany, and Mexico.
The upscale Omni QLED Series will feature what Amazon calls the "Fire TV Ambient Experience," which allows customers to engage with a number of apps on their TVs, from calendars to Spotify (SPOT), and features works of art that can be displayed on the TV when it's not in use. Meanwhile, the addition of the cost-effective 2-Series will likely make the Fire TV more accessible to consumers.
The Fire TV 2-Series starts at $199.99, while the QLED Series starts at $449.99.
Looking ahead, Fire TV faces stiff competition, not only from incumbent TV-making giants like Samsung and Sony (SONY), but also from tech-centric players like Roku (ROKU). In January, Roku announced it was building its own TV, and this month, the company unveiled those TVs to consumers for purchase. Still, Amazon's strengthened commitment to its TV efforts is clear. To that end, perhaps isn't an accident that, despite the many cuts the company's making, streaming content for Amazon Prime remains one of the areas in which the e-commerce giant will continue investing.
"They've already put a massive investment in [Amazon Prime]," said CFRA Research Senior Equity Analyst Arun Sundaram on Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday. "You've heard about some of their originals that they've introduced last year. They had that deal with Thursday Night Football. That was a major deal, a costly deal. So, I think they'll continue to invest in Amazon Prime, Prime Video especially because that helps boost their entire e-commerce ecosystem."
In the end, Amazon's betting on its ability to improve the smart TV.
“We continue to hear from customers that most smart TVs just aren’t all that smart — and they’re turning to Fire TV to deliver a truly intelligent and intuitive TV experience ... In fact, televisions are the fastest growing segment in the Fire TV business," said Daniel Rausch, VP of Amazon entertainment devices and services, in a statement. “When customers love something, we double down."
Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks and on LinkedIn.
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