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Amazon Streaming Device to Ship in April: Report

Updated from 8:58 a.m. to include comment from Amazon.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As speculation has fueled around Amazon's (AMZN) net big area of innovation, the living room, it looks the Seattle-based company's streaming device will launch next month.

Citing people familiar with the company's plans, The Wall Street Journal reports Amazon's streaming device, which will come in dongle-form according to TechCrunch, will start shipping in April and be available on Amazon's website as well as retailers including Best Buy (BBY) and Staples (SPLS).

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the story.

The move further puts Amazon in competition with Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG), both of which already offer streaming devices, the Apple TV, and Chromecast, respectively. Apple TV costs $99 and comes in set-top box form, while the Chromecast runs $35 and comes in a dongle, similar to what Amazon's device will look like.

Like Apple and Google's devices, the Amazon device, which is not yet named, though could be part of the Kindle Fire family, will carry Netflix (NFLX), Hulu Plus, Pandora (P), and Amazon Instant Video, Amazon's competing product with Netflix and Hulu. Its been speculated that as part of the recent Amazon Prime price hike to $99, Amazon will include its own streaming music service, though that remains to be seen.

Amazon's device will also compete with Roku, which makes its own streaming devices. Roku recently announced its own streaming dongle, selling at retail for $49.99.

Like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HDX tablets, the streaming device will use a forked version of Google Android's operating system, but will have its own customized look to it. Since it is a forked version of Android, it's unlikely that Amazon's streaming device will have a native YouTube app. If you search for YouTube in Amazon's Appstore, you see a variety of apps that pull content from YouTube, but no official YouTube app.

For a while, there was no official Netflix app either for the Kindle Fire HDX, but Amazon soon rectified that situation.

See Also: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Review: Size Matters

Separately, Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein boosted his price target on Amazon to $455 from $440, keeping his "outperform" rating, noting the company's opportunity in several different areas, and accounting for the recent price hike in Amazon Prime.

"While the underperformance was driven by slower 4Q orders and gross profits, we believe the long-term story remains intact and see several positive catalysts: 1) $20 Prime price increase should add $0.60-$0.70 to 2015E EPS; 2) gross profit/customer outperforming US/European markets by 860 bps, suggesting continued share gains; 3) CPG opportunity remains large; and 4) valuation compelling based on sum-of-the-parts with AWS conservatively valued at 6x sales and eCommerce at a 32x P/E assuming 6% terminal margin," Helfstein wrote in the note.

Shares of Amazon were higher in early Tuesday trading, gaining 0.1% to $375.43.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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