Amazon turns Fire TV Cube into a cheap cloud desktop PC for businesses

Alfonso Maruccia

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Why it matters: Before the advent of personal computers, dumb, low-power terminals were utilized to access powerful mainframe machines. Cloud computing platforms have revived the concept of thin clients and dumb terminals, and Amazon is now offering to sell the hardware for remote workers and disposable workforces in the cloud.

Amazon is repurposing its Fire TV Cube streaming video box as a terminal for cloud users called Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client. The device sheds its streaming capabilities to transform into an affordable tool for enterprise workers, as explained by Amazon, allowing companies to reduce technology costs while enhancing security for their entire cloud-based business.

Amazon's WorkSpaces Thin Client is tailored for the post-pandemic job market, addressing the reality that remote and hybrid work is likely here to stay. Industries such as customer service, technical support, and healthcare need to ensure employees have quick and reliable access to business applications and data services, regardless of their location, according to Amazon.

The WorkSpaces Thin Client is the first consumer device adapted by Amazon into external hardware for AWS customers. Melissa Stein from Amazon notes that customers were seeking a lower-cost device for "high-turnover environments" like call centers. The Fire TV Cube hardware provided all the necessary resources to create such a device, allowing employees to access their assigned, cloud-based virtual desktop for their work.

Amazon's repurposed device features a new software stack for managing secure cloud connections and peripherals like dual monitors, mouse, keyboard, camera, headset, and other essentials for productivity. It also incorporates purpose-built firmware and an "operating system" designed for secure cloud access, facilitating easy remote management by IT staff.

The starting price for a single Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client device is $195. This represents a significant cost advantage compared to traditional laptops and desktop computers commonly used for remote work, which can range from $600 to $1,200 per employee. The dumb terminal is exclusively available to enterprise customers through Amazon Business and the B2B marketplace.

Companies can order pre-configured thin clients that are securely shipped to employees' homes or offices, simplifying the deployment of virtual desktops at scale. End-users only need to connect their peripherals and access the internet to be operational with their AWS virtual desktop in "less than five minutes."

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