Will The Next Amazon Kindle Be Your Digital Media Center?

Following up on my post from last week about Amazon’s rumored Android tablet, two recent news items seem to lend credence to my speculation that the Amazon tablet is really part of a much larger push by the company to become the integrated device/content hub for your household’s digital entertainment needs.

First was the news that Amazon had signed a deal with Universal Pictures for streaming rights to over a thousand of the studio’s films.  This pact means that Amazon Video-on-Demand service now offers over 9,000 streaming programs for Amazon Prime subscribers.  The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but since Amazon also serves as a retailer for Universal’s DVDs and Blu-rays (unlike Netflix), it’s quite possible that they were able to leverage this clout to negotiate terms considerably more favorable than Netflix would have been able to achieve.  Though Amazon’s 9,000 Prime titles still pales compared to the 20,000+ streaming offerings available over at Netflix, Amazon’s been on a very aggressive pace in acquiring streaming content for Prime, and it’s likely that the Universal announcement will be followed by a number of similar deals with other studios and content producers in the coming months.

The second big Amazon streaming announcement broke this morning, with the news that Bezos’s boys had purchased Pushbutton, a UK-based company that specializes in developing interactive apps for Internet-TV systems.  Though not a familiar name in the US, Pushbutton has extensive experience developing streaming applications for a wide range of digital and mobile devices, working closely with Amazon’s Lovefilm subsidiary (the UK-equivalent of Netflix) to bring Lovefilm’s offerings to British PS3, Sony Internet TV, and Samsung Smart TV owners.  Pushbutton has also developed an interactive remote control application for iPads, iPhones, and Windows Phone 7 users, which provides interactive control of any Microsoft Mediaroom set-top box (AT&T’s U-Verse television system, for instance, runs on MS Mediaroom).  Pushbutton’s experience in connecting mobile devices with digital content and whole-house digital ecosystems means that they’re poised to help Amazon deliver a unified content and interface experience.

The pieces of the puzzle continue to fall into place; Amazon already has enormous data center capacity, solid relationships with content producers, strong customer loyalty, and a number of successful download/streaming services (Kindle, Music, Prime Video-on-Demand).  These assets will become more than the sum of their parts only if they continue to acquire the necessary content and software components needed to make their upcoming tablet the core of a wholly new Amazon cloud-based ecosystem.  So far, the company’s acquisitions suggest that it’s heading on the right track.