In January, Amazon Fire TV surpassed 40 million active users, as the platform continues to battle Roku for the lofty title of “World’s Top Connected TV OS.” The clout of these two device ecosystems was on full display over the summer, when two major streaming services, Comcast/NBCUniversal’s Peacock and AT&T/WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, both tried launching without support from either Amazon or Roku. (Fire TV has since enabled an app for HBO Max.)
Sitting at the controls as an emerging distribution paradigm unfolds, with OTT device ecosystems serving as the new gatekeepers, Gupta considers Fire TV fierce competition with not just Roku, but also Google and Apple, “a good thing because it provides customers with more options and more selections. We are Amazon and we believe in open customer choices. But we at Fire TV feel like we are delivering the best product.”
The former Apple and Yahoo executive joined Amazon in 2011, and was put in charge of the company’s quickly aborted FirePhone initiative. That early misstep aside, he has helped lead the company’s successful Fire TV-fueled OTT ambitions since early 2015.
As they have for Netflix, Roku and other big streaming companies, the pandemic’s changing consumer habits have helped fuel rapid growth for Amazon’s Prime Video content and Fire TV software/hardware initiatives.
“What we’ve seen during the lockdown is people looking to TV as really a way to connect with the world,” Gupta said. “They want to understand what’s going on and get entertainment. It’s redefined what people are looking for in our devices. The amazing growth in live usage [on Fire TV] is a great example of that.”
Making Fire TV a better conduit for live streaming is where much of Gupta’s focus is these days. There’s also international expansion of the platform to consider.
“We want to (expand) in a way that we don’t ever sacrifice or compromise the customer experience,” explains Gupta. “Meaning that when someone gets a Fire TV, they know they are getting a great experience that they are going to love. We will never ever go into a region if we can’t provide that.”
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