Amazon Unveils Fire TV Stick in Chromecast Challenge

Amazon.com Inc. unveiled a media-streaming device that plugs into a TV set to let users browse video and music from Netflix Inc., Hulu LLC and Pandora Media Inc., seeking to extend its reach in customers’ digital lives.

The $39 Fire TV Stick plugs into a port on a high-definition television, comes with a remote control and can mirror media content and applications from a user’s phone or tablet, Seattle-based Amazon said today in a statement. The device can be ordered today and will be released on Nov. 19.

The Fire TV Stick will stream content from Amazon’s Prime service, with connections to other providers such as Netflix, Spotify Ltd. and Showtime. Following Amazon’s introduction this year of the Fire TV box, the new plug-in stick steps up competition with home-media services from Google Inc., whose Chromecast plug-in device retails for $35 and tops Amazon’s electronics best-seller list, as well as offerings from Roku Inc. and Apple Inc.

“The Fire TV Stick will be a natural progression of the Fire TV,” said RJ Hottovy, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. who has a buy rating on Amazon stock. “They will have more success among core Amazon Prime users, but it will be more difficult switching customers away.”

After posting its biggest quarterly net loss since at least 2003 last week and forecasting sales and profit for the fourth quarter that missed analysts’ projections, Amazon is turning to home devices to bring in more customers ahead of the holiday season.

The Fire TV Stick, which can sync directly with the Fire TV box, is aimed at driving more $99 annual subscriptions to Prime, which offers free fast shipping and access to instant video streaming. Amazon is offering a free 30-day membership to Prime with the purchase of a Fire TV Stick, and current Prime members can pre-order the stick for $19 for the first two days.

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