An Unexpected Alliance: Best Buy and Amazon Team Up to Sell Smart TVs
The CEOs of Best Buy and Amazon are demonstrating that sometimes perceived rivals can be allies, as it was announced Wednesday that their companies would team up to sell the next generation of Amazon’s Fire TV Edition smart TVs in the U.S. and Canada.
The partnership will kick off with Best Buy – which is based in Richfield – launching more than ten 4K and HD Fire TV Edition models from Toshiba and Insignia, the company said in a release.
Unlike earlier versions, the new smart TVs come with the Fire TV experience built in, putting live TV and streaming content into one “easy-to-view” location. Consumers can connect any HD antenna to use Alexa to make their viewing selections. The Fire TV Editions can also pair with any Amazon Echo device for a hands-free Alexa-assisted TV experience.
“Our goal is to enrich the lives of our customers by offering them the very best products and services, whether they come to us online, visit our stores, or invite us into their homes,” said Hubert Joly, Best Buy chairman and CEO, in a statement. “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.”
Per the arrangement, Best Buy will be the exclusive brick-and-motor retailer for the TVs, selling them in stores and online in the U.S. to start, and then eventually in Canada. The electronics giant will also for the first time become a third-party seller on Amazon.
As industry website Recode noted, the collaboration gives Amazon broad distribution for its devices and systems in a physical setting – which is still most consumers’ preferred shopping platform – and gives the online retailer an outsourced body of sales associates who can help advise customers on uses of Amazon products, like Alexa. Meanwhile, Best Buy gets access to exclusive products that could bring more customers into its store.
“These Fire Edition smart TVs… deliver beautiful visuals and all the movies and TV shows you love, with an experience that gets better every day with Alexa,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in prepared remarks. “We could not have a better partner in this endeavor.”
Best Buy and Amazon, which are often pitted as retail rivals, actually have a history of collaboration, Bezos pointed out during a joint in-person appearance at a Best Buy store in Washington on Wednesday. Best Buy has sold Amazon’s Kindle e-readers for almost a decade and has since offered other Amazon products including Fire tablets and TV sticks for streaming and Alexa displays. Last year, the companies also teamed by placing Amazon Echo and Alexa showcases inside 700 Best Buy stores as a way to highlight the products and educate customers.
“Today we take our partnership to a new level,” Bezos said.
The first product to come out of the new partnership – Toshiba Fire TV Edition smart TVs – will be available this summer, with more models due later in the year.