In one of the strangest announcements I’ve ever come across, there’s a new consumer electronics retail partnership between two of the industry’s biggest rivals—or so it’d seem.
Best Buy and Amazon released a statement today announcing plans to work together to launch new Amazon Fire TV Edition smart TVs in Best Buy stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. The first step in the new partnership will see Best Buy launch more than 10 4K and HD Fire TV edition models from Insignia and Toshiba, starting this summer.
"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 home," Hubert Joly, Best Buy chairman and CEO, said 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."
On the surface, the partnership seems to make a lot of sense. Amazon Fire TV Edition sets are growing in popularity, which is something that Best Buy would want to capitalize on. Why not borrow from the success of the TVs, bring them into your stores and onto your website, and have consumers buy them exclusively from you?
“Amazon and Best Buy have a long history of working together, and today we take our partnership to a new level,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, said in the statement. “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.”
Seems fair. But could this also be one of those all-too-familiar tricks? Maybe a bit like the Trojan horse being walked right through the gates of Troy.
It’s something of a peace offering by Amazon, lulling Best Buy into this idea of a fantasy land where the two companies can work together in perfect harmony. Sure, it could work for a while and has to a certain degree as the companies have been working together in some capacity over the past decade (as Bezos' quote references). But at some point it really feels like this could back fire on Joly and give Amazon—which stole the number-one spot in our consumer electronics retail rankings this year from Best Buy—an even bigger edge in its mission to continually dominate the retail industry.
That “incredible user experience” that Fire TV Edition delivers, as Joly referenced, includes the ability to use one’s voice to shop right from their couch. And while the purchases coming from an Amazon Fire TV Edition might not warrant concern from a company like Best Buy, there’s still the future potential of the platform to worry about.
So, part of me understands why Best Buy would want to consider stepping onto the dance floor with Amazon. I just hope they don’t find themselves with a knife sticking out of their back at some point down the line.