Amazon is making a big play for your TV set.
The U.S. e-commerce giant currently sells the Fire TV stick, which plugs into a TV and allows users to access a variety of streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. But now Amazon has integrated its Fire TV software directly into TV sets made by Chinese electronics giant Tongfang.
That means people purchasing Seiki, Westinghouse and Element Electronics 4K smart TVs will be able to access loads of streaming services, channels, apps and live broadcasts directly from the set.
And the TVs will come with a voice-control remote that features Alexa – Amazon's artificial intelligence personal assistant, similar to Apple's Siri or Google Assistant. Users, for example, will be able to ask Alexa via the TV set to control lights in their home.
For consumers, the Fire TV software will allow them to access all of their streaming services and many apps, including Amazon's own, from their TVs in their living room and bedrooms. Also, Amazon hosts 4K content, which will allow consumers to consume this high-resolution programming on their new TVs.
And for Amazon, this is a further push into consumers' lives and homes. By integrating its Fire TV software on sets, it gives another way for Prime users to access the services that they pay for as part of the $99 per year subscription.
Amazon has also integrated Alexa as part of this as it looks to increase the uptake of its voice assistant and make it a key part of the home. Amazon currently sells the Echo – a speaker with Alexa built in – and expanded it into the U.K. and Germany last year. The U.S. technology firm has looked to put Alexa on a number of devices, even ones it doesn't make. It wants to make the use of Alexa wide-spread to drive consumers to its services.
The deal with Tongfang could also lay the groundwork for Amazon to seek partnerships with other TV manufacturers. And the move also poses a challenge to rivals such as Apple which has its own box that can plugged into TV sets.
Amazon and Tongfang did not reveal the financial terms of the deal or the price of the TVs, but said they would be available "later this year" on Amazon.com and authorized retailers across the U.S.