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Anticipating the “Bezos gambit” in the digital living room

We heard the rumors in late spring about a possible Amazon net-top, and now the speculation is heating up again around a possible Amazon living room device.

The first round of speculation was centered around a video-centric streaming box, but today’s new batch of rumors seems to think the new Amazon box could come loaded gaming capabilities.

So is Amazon crazy? After all, with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo in the first half-inning of a new cycle and upstarts like Ouya and Steam coming in with new approaches to the game market, what in the world could Amazon offer?

My guess is plenty. While TV-centric internet hardware devices are bountiful nowadays, what it takes to break in is a different approach (i.e., Chromecast) or the ability to transfer a huge installed base of customers that use your company’s products or services to the new device. I think Amazon will do both.

But beyond leveraging their own strengths, there is no shortage of weaknesses among the current crop of incumbents and upstarts. The big three console guys are too locked into the long cycle (five years or more) with billion-dollar boxes that are expensive, take forever to amortize, and are costly to develop for, while new companies with interesting ideas often fall victim to being either underfunded or rushing to market (Ouya seems guilty of both).

My guess is much like the way Jeff Bezos saw an opportunity with the Washington Post where many saw a dying media organization, the new king of tech is likely playing chess where others are playing checkers in the living room.

I can’t see what his opening move is. Whatever the Bezos gambit looks like, no doubt it will be strong and decisive.

Image courtesy the New York Times