Amazon (S AMZN) has delayed the launch of its cloud music player as well as its FreeTime kids content tier for its Fire TV streaming device. The reason for the delay may be a related content initiative: the long-rumored launch of Amazon’s music streaming service.
When Amazon unveiled Fire TV in April, it made a point of showing off the integration with FreeTime, the company’s subscription tier for kids content that debuted on the Kindle Fire in late 2012. FreeTime was supposed to offer comprehensive parental controls, making it impossible for kids to leave the app and watch any videos not appropriate for their age on apps from other services, and for parents to set limits on the amount of time their youngsters are allowed to watch TV every day. Fire TV didn’t ship with FreeTime at launch, but Amazon said at the time that the service would become available on the device in May.
Also due for a launch in May was Amazon’s Cloud Player, a music app that allows Amazon customers to listen to music stored in their personal locker. Users can upload their personal music collection to the Cloud Player, and Amazon is also making every song a customer ever purchased available through the service, regardless of whether the purchase was a digital file from Amazon’s download store, a CD or even a Vinyl album.
May has passed, and neither FreeTime nor the Cloud Player app have shown up on Fire TV. Instead, Amazon’s website now states that FreeTime will come to Fire TV “this spring” — I guess that gives the company about two more weeks — and that the Cloud Player will be “coming soon.”
So what happened?
App developments obviously can run behind schedule, and especially a more ambitious endeavor like FreeTime could be delayed for a number of reasons. But that Cloud Player is also late is somewhat suspicious, especially since Fire TV’s app catalog is a bit light on the music side. Amazon’s app store currently only lists eight music apps for the device, with Pandora, (S P) iHeartRadio, TuneIn and Vevo being the most popular. Subscription music services like Spotify or Rhapsody are completely amiss.
That’s remarkable, because it just happens that Amazon is getting ready to launch its own subscription music service. A string of leaks has pointed to plans to launch that service in May, with at least one recently-leaked document mentioning the week of May 26 as a goal. However, it looks like Amazon’s plans were held up by licensing disputes with independent labels, which have reportedly since been resolved.
So what does this mean for Amazon’s plans for bringing more of its services to the Fire TV? My hunch is that we are going to see a full-blown music subscription app launch on Fire TV as soon as the company is going to launch its music service as part of its Prime subscription. And it’s possible that FreeTime, with a new app for Fire TV, is going to be part of that announcement as well.
An Amazon spokesperson told me that the Fire TV team is “working hard” on the next update, which will be rolled out ” as soon as it’s ready.”
This story was updated at 6:41pm with a statement from Amazon.