amazon firestick

Amazon launches Alexa-less Fire TV Stick for international users of its Prime video service

We’re approaching one year since Amazon expanded its Prime video service to over 200 countries internationally, and today the company is doubling down on that global audience with the introduction of a ‘Basic Edition’ of its popular Fire TV Stick that ships to over 100 countries.

The company unveiled a much-improved second-generation version of the product in September, adding 4K and HDR support, but, like its predecessor, availability is limited to the U.S. initially with little chance of hitting much of the world. That’s an issue with Amazon wants to marry the dongle with Amazon Prime Video viewers outside of its strongest markets.

This new Basic Edition is essentially the previous incarnation of the device but without voice commands via Alexa. Alexa has been omitted altogether — you’ll note the lack of a voice command button on the remote. That’s because Alexa products aren’t yet available in many parts of the world, although Amazon has just begun to ship the Echo to India and Japan will follow soon as it bids to expand in Asia.

The Basic Edition, like the previous Fire TV Stick, comes with 720p and 1080p up to 60fps video output, Dolby Audio, a 1.3 GHz processor, 1 GB memory and 8 GB of storage for apps and games. The price is advertised as $50 — it may vary based on location — which is more than the $30 first-gen Fire TV stick but less than the new $69.99 model.

It may seem a little cheeky that Amazon is charging more for essentially less here — Alexa being the main difference — but this is the first time that a Fire TV Stick has been available for direct shipping to many parts of the world. So even if you wanted a superior model you’d end up paying more — both in terms of shipping cost, and the hassle of getting a product moved to your country of choice. This new version also includes free shipping, another small bonus.

It’s a logical move for Amazon because the Fire TV Stick can drive adoption of Prime Video, but for now but — if you live in a country where Amazon’s core e-commerce business and the remainder of the Prime membership services are not present — it isn’t exactly deal of the century. Google’s Chromecast, one of the closet like-for-like competitors, has local resale options world in some parts of the world but, for many, this new Basic Edition might be the most attractive dongle — even when it isn’t tied to Amazon’s full quota of Prime Video services.

“Last year, we made Amazon Prime Video available to customers globally, and today, we’re building on that momentum as we introduce Fire TV Stick Basic Edition to new customers around the world. This makes streaming content from apps like Prime Video fast and easy and we can’t wait to hear what customers think,” Marc Whitten, vice president of the Amazon Fire TV business, said in a statement.

Article by Jon Russell at TechCrunch