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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Can the Apple TV retire my Fire TV?

Warning: This story has not been updated in several years and may contain out-of-date information.

Way back in February, I wrote that I’d more or less switched to the Fire TV for my set-top box needs. With the new Apple TV just a week away, I’ve been wondering if it’ll be able to replace Amazon’s streaming video device as my go-to little black box.

My gut feeling is yes: I’ve been waiting for Apple to make a great set-top box, and everything I’ve seen of the Apple TV—including my brief interactions with it at the September 9th event—suggests that this is it.

The reasons I abandoned the Apple TV in the first place were several: flaky performance, lack of Plex support, and the Fire TV’s handy voice search. The Apple TV’s newer, speedier hardware will hopefully resolve the first; Plex has already announced that it will be in the Apple TV App Store on day one; and the Siri features seem to go above and beyond what my Fire TV currently offers.1

The only potential pothole that I see is the lack of Amazon Prime support for the Apple TV. These days, the video sources I frequent are—in rough order of use—Hulu, Plex, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and iTunes. The Apple TV looks to have native access to four out of five of those—in addition to a couple of other one-offs, like HBO Go and Disney XD—as well as indirect access to Amazon via AirPlay on the iPad.

I’m hopeful that Amazon will actually choose to make an app for the Apple TV, but there’s also this whole kerfuffle to consider. In the end, I still can’t fathom why Amazon would shoot itself in the foot by not making an app for the Apple TV. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a Prime subscriber and a fan of the service, but it’s not so good that I will buy into Amazon’s ecosystem just in order to have access to it. In this, I feel that Amazon should be drawing its inspiration not from Apple, but from Microsoft and Google: put your business on as many popular platforms as possible. Give everybody a reason to consider being your customer.

So, hopes for the new Apple TV are high. My time with the Amazon Fire TV has been great—I don’t regret it. But the lure of an Apple-designed set-top box is just too sweet a siren song to ignore.

  1. There is support for Alexa, Amazon’s voice-based intelligence, coming to my older Fire TV in a software update at some point, but it hasn’t yet materialized, and I’m not sure if it will be able to match Siri. Rest assured, I’ll give it a try when it shows up. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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