Yesterday’s news brought another new product launch from Amazon, Fire TV—a Roku-esque box which plays the expected YouTube, Netflix and so on, plus video from Amazon’s own instant video and Freetime Unlimited kids service. The box plays games too!
The not entirely unexpected caveat? Only in the US and UK right now. So once again, I am sitting here in Canada looking at the specs of a service I would willingly pay for if only someone would sell it to me. I know Canada is not the den of profit America is. We just don’t have the population to be. But we do have SOME population! And now that Amazon is getting into more self-licensed content such as Kindle Worlds and Amazon Exclusives, I find it hard to believe that they really can’t send any of it up here.
I give them deserved props. It’s a slick offering. What especially appeals to me—the gap that nobody else, not Netflix, not Kobo, is filling here—is the Freetime Unlimited deal. I love that people with kids can turn them loose on only-approved content. I love that they can set limits, or goals, for the time their kids spend on gaming, video and books. Heck, I would love to have goal-setting features for me! No more Adventure Beaks until you get your daily French reading done, missy…
Here’s the thing—people want these features. If I had a kid and I was American, my iPad Mini would have been a Kindle Fire. I don’t even care as much about specific pieces of content per se. I just like the whole ecosystem; this app or that video not being available to me wouldn’t matter so much. So what choices do I have? Well, looking at the options, either Netflix adds ebooks too, Kobo adds video too, or Amazon expands their already existing system into Canada. Of these options, the Amazon offering seems to have the lowest barriers to implementation.
People complain all the time about Amazon’s market dominance. But this is a perfect example of why that argument can be a facile one. Here is a service that, here in Canada at least, nobody else is offering. And Amazon IS offering it—just not here. When it finally, maybe years from now, wends its way north, I don’t want to hear any Canadian incumbents complaining about it. Do it now, yourselves, if you want this piece of the pie. You have an opening, while Amazon dithers.