SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up efforts to win over customers in their living rooms with a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, challenging Apple's TV device.
The world's largest Internet retailer unveiled Fire TV, a small black device that starts shipping Wednesday. The machine also puts Amazon in closer competition with Google and Roku, which offer their own Internet-connected TV gadgets.
All of the companies are striving to reach into consumers' homes and to tie customers to a package of services. Amazon has been using free video-streaming to lure more people to its two- day shipping subscription, called Prime. Fire TV includes , Netflix Inc. and Hulu Inc. applications for viewing, part of Amazon's effort to include as much content as possible, according to Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon's Kindle division.
"Fire TV is definitely a better experience if you have Prime," Larsen said in a brief interview after presenting the device at an event in New York.
Fire TV also features viewing apps from Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and CBS Corp.'s Showtime, available to anyone who already pays for television through their cable or satellite provider. Bloomberg TV, part of Bloomberg LP, is also featured on Fire TV.
Amazon, which had already offered streaming-video services via its Kindle tablets and Web browsers, also competes with Netflix and Hulu for content rights from major television and film studios.
Amazon's TV strategy isn't designed to compete with traditional TV services and is aimed instead at helping the Web retailer sell more products. Fire TV should help drive more Prime subscriptions, Larsen said. The service, which costs $99 a year, offers free 2-day shipping and includes with a wealth of streaming video content from major TV studios.