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Amazon launches Amazon Fire TV to rival Apple TV

Amazon Fire streams TV and can also be used for gaming

Amazon launches Amazon Fire TV to rival Apple TV
Amazon's Fire TV is available now and is set to rival Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

Amazon has launched an Internet-connected TV set-top box in order to compete with Apple TV and Google's Chromecast in the television market, according to online reports.

Amazon Fire TV is a small black box, similar to Apple TV, that is said to be able to fit in the palm of a hand. It streams content from Amazon's library and video-on-demand services such as Netflix Inc, Hulu and other video services, directly to televisions.

The device can also be used for gaming. "People play games on tablets, but they want to play on TV," said Amazon's Peter Larsen. Amazon has formed partnerships with gaming firms such as Sega, EA, Disney and, according to online reports, has promised thousands of Android titles next month as well as expanding Amazon games studios to build bespoke games.

A separate games controller, called Viola, can be bought from Amazon for $39.99.

Fire TV, which is available now and costs $99, comes with a Bluetooth-enabled remote, which means it does not have to be pointed at the TV to work. The remote also features a microphone that enables voice-activated search.

The Fire TV competes in a market that is set to grow by 24% this year, Strategy Analytics said.

According to Reuters, if Fire TV takes off, it could help shape the way consumers shop online. Fire TV viewers may eventually be able to use their remote to buy a product directly off a commercial, analysts said, as Amazon's multimedia and online retail businesses become even more integrated.

"The company will eventually want to help you buy things in the living room," Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said. "Only Amazon can piece that entire experience together in the living room and though we don't see evidence of that ambition here today, we should assume Amazon knows this and is planning on it."

The company promised however that Fire TV, available now on Amazon.com, would be faster and easier to use than Apple TV, Google's Chromecast or Roku Inc's streaming video device.

It can predict what the user will watch and cue it up, Kindle unit vice president Peter Larsen said. It also has a feature that uses data from IMDB to identify the music on screen as well as the actors and their filmography as they exit and enter the screen on TV.

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