Will Amazon destroy the Apple TV with an Android console?

Today in Open Source: Amazon preps Android gaming and TV console launch for later this year. Plus: Linux Mint versus Ubuntu versus Chromebooks, and a first look at the Maxthon cloud browser for Linux

Amazon's Kindle TV?

GameSpot is reporting that an Android gaming and TV console is on the way from Amazon.

Retail behemoth Amazon will launch its rumored Android-powered games and entertainment device in 2014 at a price point below $300. The device shown to publishers is believed to be about the same size as the redesigned PSOne, grey in color, and featuring sharp edges.

Overall, Amazon's console aims to be the focus of the living room, tying together the suite of entertainment content Amazon offers--like digital music, movies, games, and TV shows.

More at GameSpot
Amazon Android Games
Image credit: Amazon

I speculated about this a while back in an earlier article. It seems like a smart move for Amazon to push its content and services into the living room. Their product seems to be clearly modeled on the Apple TV, but with games and apps included with the system (the current model of Apple TV does not offer games or apps, but this may be changing soon).

The thing that gives me pause about it though is the potential price tag of the console. The article simply says it will be "below $300." That's a very vague pricing possibility, and price might be very important since Amazon is not the only one rumored to be working on this kind of console.

Apple TV has been around a long time, but reports seem to indicate that Apple has finally stopped considering it a hobby. Apple TV now has its own link on the front page of Apple's online store, and rumors are swirling that a revamped Apple TV - with an app store and gaming capabilities - might be launched very soon.

Currently Apple TV sells for $99, and that's quite a bit below $300. If Apple launches a beefed up Apple TV that can play games then it's possible the price might rise accordingly. But I doubt very much it will be anywhere near $300.

So Amazon is going to have to make sure that it's Android-based console is priced competitively with Apple TV. Fortunately, Amazon is known for offering low cost products that allow it to make money via content rather than through hardware sales. I expect they'll do something similar with this new Android gaming and TV console.

I wonder what Amazon will call their new console. The Kindle TV? While it wouldn't be very original, it probably makes sense since the Kindle is such a well known brand. A Kindle TV would become another part of the larger Kindle product family.

I expect that the Kindle TV or whatever it is called will also offer music, TV shows, movies and other content. Amazon would not be foolish enough to limit it just to games when the company makes most of its money from the sale of content. So the new console will offer the largest variety of content categories possible.

One thing that perplexes me about Apple is how long it's taken them to produce a version of Apple TV that can run games and other apps. They may still beat Amazon to market with this kind of product, but it should have happened years ago.

Apple has been dragging its feet for what seems like an eternity with the Apple TV. Their reticence has given Amazon time to prepare to enter the TV console market. Apple may yet rue the day it let Amazon catch up to the Apple TV with an Android-based alternative.

We'll have to wait and see what the final specs and prices are on each product. It may play out the same way it has with tablets. Apple will hit the market first with a higher priced, premium product. And then Amazon may follow with a lower cost, budget-conscious alternative.

Linux Mint versus Ubuntu versus Chromebooks

OpenSource takes a look a the pros and cons of Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Chromebooks.

I'm going to pretend that I am a NFL analyst assessing each Linux distro's product and explaining what each distro needs to improve on to be appealing enough for the average consumer.

If all three Linux distros want to sell more PCs with their OS, they need to aspire to creating an "appliance" that works well out of the box so that when tech reviewers "unbox" their product on YouTube, they get the optimal "out of the box" experience to share with the world.

More at OpenSource
Compulab Mintbox 2
Image credit: Amazon

The author raises some interesting points in his criticisms of each product. It makes sense for certain kinds of consumers to be able to purchase Linux computing devices that simply work right out of the box. But let's not forget that there are plenty of other Linux users who prefer to build their own computers, or otherwise retain more control over the hardware that they are using.

If somebody really wants an appliance then they probably aren't going to be interested in Linux, and they might gravitate more toward one of Apple's products such as the Mac, Apple TV or iPad. There's nothing wrong with that either. Everybody has different computing needs so Apple's walled garden approach might work better for that type of user.

Regarding Linux Mint, the author might want to check out Compulab's Mintbox 2 as a possible example of a Linux Mint appliance. It's gotten rave reviews on Amazon, and I think it's as close to a Linux Mint appliance as we can get right now.

A sneak peek at the Maxthon cloud browser

Softpedia has a first look at the beta of the Maxthon browser.

Even if, at first sight, it looks promising and attractive, you will immediately notice that it’s actually a modified version of the Google Chrome/Chromium web browsers. It brings some welcomed additions, but unfortunately it also includes all the bad things that Chromium or Google Chrome has, and I say this as a full-time Mozilla Firefox user.

More at Softpedia
Maxthon Cloud Browser for Linux
Image credit: Softpedia

I can't say I'm too excited about the Maxthon browser. Since it's based on Chrome and Chromium, it doesn't have much to set it apart from them beyond the cloud stuff. And I'm not convinced that cloud functionality will be enough to attract significant numbers of users.

I might be wrong about this but it will probably end up being just another ho-hum Chrome/Chromium clone. Plus, who really wants to trust their browser data to Maxthon's cloud, particularly given the Chinese angle?

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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