Amazon and Best Buy to Launch Line of Smart TVs

If you thought Amazon and Best Buy were the archest of arch rivals in the rapidly shifting world of retailing, brace yourself: The e-tail and retail powerhouses yesterday announced a collaboration to bring a new line of smart TVs to market in the U.S. this summer.

Under the deal, Best Buy will launch a dozen or so Fire TV Edition TVs under the Toshiba and Insignia brands. The TVs — a mix of 4K/Ultra HD and standard HD models — will be available only in Best Buy stores, on, and for the first time, from Best Buy as a third-party seller on The line will also be available for purchase in Canada later this year. Insignia is one of Best Buy’s house brands.

The TVs will be built around Amazon’s Fire TV platform and Alexa virtual assistant, enabling viewers to use a hands-free “voice remote” to search over-the-air broadcast TV and streaming TV services including Netflix, Prime Video, HBO, PlayStation Vue, Hulu, and others. In addition to navigating content and launching apps, the voice remote can be used to play music, switch inputs, and control smart home devices. The TVs can also be paired with any Amazon Echo smart speaker.

With tens of thousands of Alexa skills already available, Amazon said the new Fire TV Edition sets will continue to improve as new Alexa skills, software features, and applications are added.

“Amazon and Best Buy have a long history of working together, and today we take our partnership to a new level,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. “These Fire Edition smart TVs by Insignia and Toshiba deliver beautiful visuals and all the movies and TV shows you love, with an experience that gets better every day with Alexa. We could not have a better partner in this endeavor.”

In a meeting with a small group of reporters in Bellevue, WA, near Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, Bezos said “physical stores aren’t going anywhere,” the Minneapolis StarTribune reported. “E-commerce is going to be a part of everything, but not the whole thing.”

Noting that Amazon and Best Buy sell TVs online, Bezos said many consumers prefer going to stores when making big-ticket purchases that require installation and are difficult to return. “Best Buy, with a very large physical footprint, lets people come into the stores and see the product, which is very important,” he noted. “People do want to come in and see the TV. They want to experiment with the TV — try it out.”

“Our partnership with Amazon is exciting because we believe Fire TV Edition delivers an incredible user experience and further strengthens the growing connection between home theater, home automation, and voice control,” said Best Buy chairman and CEO Hubert Joly.

Best Buy currently sells Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and Fire TV tablets streaming sticks.

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