Brad Stone at Bloomberg with the scoop on Amazon’s set-top box:
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), the world’s largest online retailer, plans to release a television set-top box that would stream video over the Internet into customers’ homes, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The device, due later this year, will connect to televisions, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about it. It will also provide access to Amazon’s expanding video services, which include the Amazon Video on Demand store.
“Reed said to me one day, ‘I want to be able to call Steve Jobs and talk to him about putting Netflix on Apple TV,’” recalls one high-level source. “‘But if I’m making my own hardware, Steve’s not going to take my call.’”
To the surprise of most employees at the company, Hastings decided to kill The Netflix Player, and spin the team out as a separate company. His decision, made almost exactly five years ago this month, was one of the riskiest moves in Netflix’s history. But it also proved to be one of Hastings’ most prescient. By shelving its hardware and remaining an agnostic platform, Netflix was able to transform itself into a digital powerhouse and become the dominant player in subscription streaming video.
I don’t make these comparison to suggest either approach is “correct” or “winning”. I just think the difference is interesting.