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ZTE Funbox Now Available for $159, Offers Useful Yardstick on Fire TV

ZTE-FunBoxAmazon may be getting all the buzz at the moment for the Fire TV (and let’s not forget the Apple TV with its 20 million units sold last quarter), but they’re not all there is. ZTE’s Android gaming console recently became available outside of China, and it adds a unique perspective on just how much these things cost.

The ZTE Funbox runs Android 4.3 on a 1.8GHz Tegra 4 CPU with 2GB RAM and 8GB Flash storage. It’s reportedly available in China for 698 yuan (about $112), and can be bought from a reseller on AliExpress for $159.

This gaming console has 2 USB ports, an HDMI port, dual-band Wifi, Bluetooth, and an ethernet port. It also features Dolby DigitalPlus audio and support for 4K video (which we could have guessed from the CPU spec). In addition to the remote control, it also comes bundled a gaming controller.

The Funbox outpoints or matches the Fire TV in several areas, including CPU, storage, controllers, connectivity, and price, all with a retail of 698 yuan. That’s considerably cheaper than the Fire TV, which tells us that Amazon probably has a profit margin built into the Fire TV’s $99 retail price.

Amazon usually sells their hardware on razor thin margins, but I don’t think that is happening in this case. If I am right then that tells us something about Amazon’s expectations for the Fire TV.

This time around Amazon isn’t quite so certain that they will recoup their costs via content sales. That’s been their business model for the Kindle Fire tablets and the Kindle ebook readers since at least late 2011, but Amazon doesn’t seem quite so certain that the model will work here.

Amazon passed up the opportunity to give Roku a heart attack by pricing the Fire TV for $79 (much like the $199 Kindle Fire did to Barnes & Noble in 2011), and I think they made that decision because they wanted the extra $20 as a cushion.

What do you think?

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fjtorres April 26, 2014 um 11:38 am

People tend to forget that, slogans aside, Amazon doesn’t always price their hardware at near cost. Instead, they price at competive market prices. People forget that the Kindle 1 was priced in line with the Sony PRS-505 and the Kindle 2 was introduced at over $300 and only came down under $200 during the 4 hour price war. Amazon only moved the Kindles to near-cost pricing after B&N showed them the benefits of squeezing out the hardware-only vendors.
Even now, Amazon isn’t afraid to be undercut on price; it’s going on two years that they haven’t cut the price of the entry-level Kindle even though there’s more than a few eink readers out there with Wi-Fi and/or touch screens selling for less (at a profit), even after the special offers discount.
Amazon gets the best of both worlds with their hardware: a reputation for low prices without having to live up to it. Especially when they compete against Apple.
FireTV will do great for them, they can easily sell 5 million a year and rake in an easy $100M net off the hardware. If they sell a few games and video files, so much the better. But that’s just frosting. The big money is in the device itself, not in the $5 games they might sell.

Al the Great and Powerful April 26, 2014 um 12:46 pm

Which is why I bought the Roku stick. Even my non-techie wife can see which is better value.

JackFrost April 26, 2014 um 10:42 pm

Don’t know why Everyone keeps posting about that aliexpress guy who probably has zero stock of the Funbox and is trying to hook unsuspecting people into buying it for a huge markup. Aliexpress is full of people without stock trying to sell for huge markups , there’s people there selling the Ouya for $330

There is only ONE official seller for the Funbox, and that is JD dot com. It’s on sale there for $112 usd locally or if your international , they sell internationally . It sells there internationally for a bit more(currency exchange markup) of $126 usd.

Nate Hoffelder April 26, 2014 um 10:47 pm


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