Amazon unveiled a host of new devices at a surprise event yesterday, and one of the company’s latest compelling products is the new 4K Fire TV. On the heels of the Apple TV 4K launch, let’s take a look at how the two set top boxes compare and what this could mean for the future of Apple’s offering.
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Just after the Apple TV 4K launch and before the rollout of Amazon Prime Video for tvOS sometime “this year”, Amazon has (wisely) announced its latest set top box.
While the new Apple TV 4K brings a mix of updates beyond just 4K HDR support, Amazon’s latest 4K Fire TV has many of the same capabilities. One of the biggest features of the new Fire TV though, is likely its price of $70. This is a drop from the previous Fire TV ($90), while Apple TV 4K comes with a price bump from the 4th-gen Apple TV creating a $110 difference between the two products.
Here’s a comparison of some of the flagship specs for each device:
Apple TV 4K is no doubt ahead when it comes to hardware with its A10X Fusion chip, Bluetooth 5.0, and higher storage options. The new 4K Fire TV does sport an upgraded processor, but interestingly gets a downgrade for the GPU going from the Power VR GX6250 in the previous model to an older Mali 450 MP3 GPU in the latest hardware. This could be a limitation of the new 4K Fire TV’s smaller form factor.
One other hardware drawback to the new 4K Fire TV is that you’ll need to spend an $15 if you’d like to use a wired Gigabit connection.
When it comes to software, if you’re really invested in Apple’s ecosystem, the price difference will likely be worth it to you…especially if you’ve purchased a decent amount of HD movies via iTunes, like Zac mentioned. You of course also get AirPlay, functionality as a HomeKit hub, iCloud connectivity, and other convenient features.
However, for many consumers — if Apple’s ecosystem isn’t a priority — Fire TV can likely provide the same amount of value for a lot less cash. Even if you don’t want a Fire TV as your primary set top box, it’s a great option for secondary spaces. With Alexa voice control, 4K, HDR support, quad-core processor, and more, this device will provide a solid experience for most users.
It’s clear why Apple doesn’t have much of the set top box market share. And Apple doesn’t need to be a leader in this space (maybe the company doesn’t intend to), but if it would want to, it seems a price cut on the devices would be necessary.
Apple TV has been trailing devices like Roku and Fire TV in market share for a while, the new 4K Fire TV will likely create even more difficulty for Apple TV adoption. IHS Markit senior analyst Paul Erickson shared his thoughts on the devices in a recent note.
“More significantly, it creates a particularly large competitive chasm for the new Apple TV 4K to cross in markets where the two products will compete head-to-head,” said Erickson. With Siri and HomeKit capabilities notably behind Alexa in both smart home functionality as well as marketing/awareness momentum, and the new Apple TV offering HDR and 4K capability at over 2.5 times the cost of Fire TV, Apple is anticipated to face considerable difficulties in growing the Apple TV available market beyond the core iOS userbase.”
Amazon may also be able to catch up with set top box leader Roku as the new 4K Fire TV is priced $10 below the older Roku 4 (supports 4K, but not HDR) and is also offering a 4K Fire TV + Echo Dot for $80.
How about you? Have you picked up the Apple TV 4K? Are you happy with your 4th-gen or earlier Apple TV, or are you considering something like Amazon’s new 4K Fire TV?