An Open Letter to Amazon

Something Tells Me That Won’t Work

Dear Amazon,

Amazon Prime Video is having a big year! You launched 4K UHD streaming options, you’re beefing up your library and allowing for offline playback, and your original series Transparent made you the first streaming service to win a Golden Globe! The only problem is: despite being a Prime member since 2009, I didn’t get to enjoy any of this… You see, I prefer to watch my TV shows and movies on a TV, and my TV’s are equipped with Chromecasts and Android TVs. I know that I am not alone in my TV OS preference and by choosing to ignore this demographic you are in danger of losing at least one of your long-time customers.

Listen, I get your struggle. You don’t want to go through Apple and Google’s respective storefronts because then you would have to give them 30% of all of your on demand movie and tv sales. That is a hefty cut! You also don’t want to just give us access to your Prime Instant Video without the possibility of seeing that premium on demand content as well. That was the whole reason to include Prime Video in the subscription in the first place, right? But was starting this war really worth it? Let us take a look.

In order to get around paying Apple and Google a share of your profits, you decided to release your own media consumption tablet. This was a natural extension of your Kindle line and you got to offer your services for low prices. You sold this tablet at a loss because drawing customers into your ecosystem is the whole point of the Fire line.

“We want to make money when customers use our devices, not when they buy our devices.”

Again, this was a pretty smart strategy because you were undercutting the whole market at the time and getting a tablet in the hands of people who were not going to get an iPad. This was a holiday hit and extended your reach. But this is where I feel we made a wrong turn. Rather than keeping your Fire line an ultra cheap way to get more people to use your services, you seemed to think it was so good that it should be the only way that you should use your services. You went on to release more tablets, a phone, and a couple of TV devices. If you don’t own one of these Fire devices, you generally are not going to have the best experience with some of your services, or no service at all.

Amazon Prime video is currently missing on Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast. How can you ignore such a huge chunk of the living room? Expecting people to buy your FireTV line just to get access to your Prime Video service goes against your own ideology of the service being the product. Oh, and blocking competitor devices on Amazon is just shameful.

So again, I ask, “Was starting this war worth it?” I think not. Yes, having your own platform is great insurance against being abused by Apple and Android. But you spent millions on R&D to manufacture these devices. You spent millions on forking Android and developing your OS. You sell your products for a loss. All of this just to avoid a 30% cut on your on demand products? I am not an accountant but I can’t imagine that it adds up. Oh, don’t forget your phone that lost $170 million. Amazon, if you truly want to be service first like you say, you need to stop this nonsense. You need to become ubiquitous and fast. You don’t have the library or exclusives to pull customers. Netflix is your direct competitor on this front and they are beating you because of this. I could go down to the corner store and buy the crappiest Blu-ray player they have and you can bet Netflix will be on that sucker. They also are consistently a launch partner for any new platform. I don’t have to think about subscribing to Netflix. I know whatever device I own, it will serve up Netflix. This should be your goal. As an Android user you have consistently made your service very difficult to get access to. It feels as though you forgot about us and so I have forgotten about you. After this holiday season I am officially cancelling my Prime membership and not looking back. I know that you will not feel this, but I just thought I owe you an explanation in case you have a change of heart.



Brian Stein

Brian Stein

Brian Stein is a Science Teacher with a love of technology. When he is not molding young minds, he is looking out for the latest and greatest gadgets. Devices: Moto X, G Watch, Nexus 7, Chromebook, Custom Plex Server

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  • Kawshik Ahmed

    Great Writing, you guys should mail it to Amazon.

  • Pedro Verdugo

    100% agree, I even gave a chance to my Fire TV and it is still great, just not as good as the Shield TV. Seems Amazon change their minds and they are making money from their devices, otherwise they are just losing potential customers of those services.


    If it was Google the one doing something like this, then we would have the EU and many “tech journalists” crying foul, or why the Apple TV is better… With that said:
    Amazon is simply being anticompetitive. Not selling the Apple TV, Chromecasts, or Nexus Players because “customers would get confused thinking that Amazon Prime would work on those” I didn’t know Amazon treated their customers as being so uneducated. It would be so simple for them to attach a “Ready for Amazon Video” label on the Roku or any other device with Amazon Video support. They are just being greedy.

    • “customers would get confused thinking that Amazon Prime would work on those”

      I was like, “wat?”.

      Most consumers aren’t stupid.

  • Bob Geiger

    Now I will admit to having difficulties with my side loaded amazon video app on my Chinese android tv box over the pass months but at the moment it’s working great and I have no problems watching prime member amazon content. Here’s a screen shot…
    The UI itself could be better, easier to use but a recent update which i got using a side loaded amazon app store app, produced a decent standalone app and I use it regularly along with Netflix, hulu plus and KODI.