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Amazon and Best Buy yesterday announced that they will team up to “bring the next generation of Fire TV Edition smart TVs to customers in the United States and Canada. As a first step in the partnership, Best Buy will launch more than ten 4K and HD Fire TV Edition models from Insignia and Toshiba, beginning this summer.”

These n ew smart TVs come equipped with Amazon’s Fire TV technology, which allows users to not just access a wide variety of online content, but also to use Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated system. The announcement says that this allows the Fire TVs to continue “to improve even after your purchase, with more new Alexa skills, software features, and applications added regularly. Tens of thousands of Alexa skills are already accessible today, allowing you to have amazing entertainment experiences, view and control your smart home connected cameras, lighting, security systems, and more.”

Not only will the Amazon-connected TVs be sold at Best Buy, but Best Buy also will have a presence on Amazon’s site as a third-party merchant for the first time.

The Wall Street Journal writes that “the two companies say they have been partners for years, and Amazon products such as Kindle e-readers have long been sold in Best Buy stores. But the new partnership brings potential benefits for both companies as sales of so-called smart TVs continue to climb. It provides Best Buy with access to Amazon’s online customers for the first time, while broadening Amazon’s potential audience for products that feature its Alexa voice assistant. Amazon, which has been expanding its physical footprint through its own stores, has deepened its reach into consumers’ homes in recent years, starting with Kindles and more recently with its line of Echo home speakers, which star Alexa.”

Jeff Bezos, founder/CEO of Amazon, conceded the importance of bricks-and-mortar in selling televisions when announcing the partnership: “Best Buy, with a very large physical footprint, lets people come into the stores and see the product, which is very important … People do want to come in and see the TV, they want to experiment with the TV, try it out.”

GeekWire writes that “a deep level of integration and trust is surely not the traditional relationship between Amazon and physical retailers. Best Buy’s new status as a third-party seller on Amazon is especially notable, as the Minneapolis-based chain has stood out as a comeback story after online retail upended the world of traditional retail. The company currently has more than 1,000 stores in North America.

“Whether the partnership leads to bigger things between the companies remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Amazon is looking for more and more ways to extend its reach into physical stores — from its $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition to its fledgling line of bookstores, grocery stores and pickup locations.”

Best Buy has about 1,000 stores around the country, and has improved its fortunes by creating in-store boutiques for brands such as Apple and Samsung and using in-store inventory to fulfill online orders from local shoppers, rather than using centralized warehouses.
KC's View:
I totally get this, and certainly think that if I’m in the market for a new TV I might wander into a best Buy - which I haven’t for a long, long time - to see the new Fire TVs. Would I then go buy one online instead of in the store? Not sure … it depends on price and maybe on service.

I have to believe that this is a risk for Best Buy, but it clearly believes that you keep your enemies closer. If this is Amazon’s world and we’re all just living in it, then making this sort of deal makes sense.