On April 2nd, Amazon just announced its own video streaming device: the $99 Amazon Fire TV. In the meantime, we are still dealing with only one major TV service operator in Zambia, heck Africa, which is DStv. There is nothing wrong with DStv, we actually subscribe to it at the office but we are just wondering why on the continent is competition so dry?!
We need to care that the Amazon Fire TV was launched in the United States because it means something for Zambia and Africa.
First of all what is Amazon Fire TV? It is a set-top box which comes in black. A set-top box allows simultaneous access to television broadcast and internet applications. Fire TV allows you to consume hundreds of thousands of movies, TV episodes, songs, and video games in 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, without ever getting up from your chair. Sounds like a delicious couch potato recipe, doesn’t it?
The Amazon set-top box has “over 3x the processing power of Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku 3,” according to Amazon’s press release, “plus 4x the memory of Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku 3 for exceptional speed and fluidity.”
In terms of performance, FireTV features a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, which Larsen said should eliminate any hint of lag. Amazon’s Peter Larsen said during a presentation that, Fire TV promises to avoid the problems that plague other living room hardware and highlighted three pain points of current devices: search, performance, and “closed ecosystem.” Larsen stated that Amazon plans to address this by bringing in numerous partners in order to provide a “ton of content”.
Apparently, Fire TV is not a gadget but rather it’s a seamlessly integrated service. Amazon has built in comprehensive parental controls, letting parents whitelist certain content that’s displayed in a custom menu interfaced designed for young viewers. There is also a voice search to prevent shouting across the room at your TV. A game pad, clearly borrowing inspiration from Microsoft’s Xbox controller, is also supported by the set-top box.
While competition for the living room is fierce the other side of the world, our living rooms in Africa have remained pretty much the same since 1995.
The amazing thing about Amazon, Apple or Roku’s ideas is that they are not even TV service operators per se. They are collectors of content who then distribute it through selling these set-top boxes. Think Netflix but in many variations.
So… are people lazy or what? The only similar service that I’ve heard of doing something in these lines is TelAfric Television Network. Although based in Canada and mainly catering to Africans living in the Diaspora of North America, TelAfric provides 24/7 access to prime Black focused Television Channels and Programmes that cater to the viewing tastes of peoples of African descent from all over the world.