Today, Amazon unveiled a new a set of 4K televisions that embed the FireTV OS as well as Alexa. Starting at $449 for the 43-inch and topping at $899 for the 65-inch, the company is moving into a territory that I’ve been expecting for quite some time. This is exciting stuff.
Smart TV’s have been around for a while now and over the last year or so I’ve pondered why there isn’t a smart TV that encompasses everything about the Echo right into the device itself. I’m not talking about a TV that just as the ability to run Netflix, HBOGo, and Prime Video. But I’m talking about a TV that lets me shop, ask questions, get the weather, all without needing the remote. I’m basically talking about a scaled up Echo Show.
See, while everyone thinks that TVs should just be dumb screens, I feel the opposite. I want my TV to have all the smarts baked in and not rely on a secondary speaker or dongle to beam information to it. Why? Because it means I can own fewer things and only need one great TV to do it all. Want to order diapers? Ask Alexa on the TV. Want to watch something on PrimeVideo? Ask Alexa. Want to turn on the lights? Ask Alexa. I want all those things to be baked into the main product that sits in almost everyone’s living room. And I want to be able to do it without looking for a stupid remote.
Today, you need a remote. But imagine if you didn't need it?
The main pushback I’ve received from my pitch is that by baking it into the television, it means that you need to buy a new television every time new innovations are made in hardware. Sure, that might be true, but I’d argue that much of the hardware that would be baked into a television would last just as long as the television itself. The Echo is three years old does it feel dated? No. How much power do you really need to stream a video or to order a new iPhone case? Not much. The only argument you could make for more power is for things like gaming, which I would agree with. But if the primary point of an Alexa-powered television is to basically be an Echo Look, then I’d argue that you could go many, many years without having to worry about your TV “slowing down.”
Plus, why are we stuck on this idea that we can’t upgrade our televisions more often? An iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy usually cost more than a standard good-enough 50-inch television. Heck, this 50-inch Element 4K television with Fire TV is just $549. That’s about $100 cheaper than the cheapest iPhone you can buy. Why is it impossible to think that we might upgrade our TV’s every five years instead of ever 10?
The iMac cleaned up the mess of traditional desktops. A television could do the same.
This is why I’ve argued that Apple should make a television. In the same way, they took the cluttered mess of the desktop and combined it into the all-in-one iMac that we love today, I would love to see that done to the television itself. I’m personally sick of wires and remotes and I think some cool innovations could come out of having the TV be a much smarter product than it is today.
This product, to me, is probably a test product to see whether or not an Amazon-branded television makes sense. I’m sure Amazon has toyed with the idea of a full-powered television powered by Alexa with cameras and mics all built into it. My gut feeling is that this product is the first step in getting to that point.
I can’t wait.