Amazon announced the Kindle Fire a few days ago, and it made some waves. It’s going to be very tightly integrated with Amazon services (including the Amazon appstore), and it’s not going to have any of the usual Google apps on it (like Maps, Gmail, and most importantly, the Google Android Market).
Some have even gone so far as to say that Amazon may turn Android against Google. I disagree with these people.
Amazon may turn Android against Google
The idea behind Android was to create an OS that would power families of smartphones. It was always intended to be open source and always intended to be free.
I think as time wore on, “families” became more like “hordes” and “smartphones” became “smart devices”. It must be exciting for the creators of Android to see where and how it gets used – often enough for things things that they had never thought it would (or could) be used for.
The Kindle Fire fits right in: it’s an Android-powered device being used to bring media and entertainment to consumers.
But Google apps aren’t included…
So what? Amazon has so far made it pretty clear that they intend this device to be a media consumption device. Why then would you need GMail or Google Maps applications?
If you really want to get to some of those services, you have a capable browser that can help.
Google Market isn’t included, so Google isn’t going to get anything in return. Google won’t get paid. Google is effectively giving Android to Amazon for nothing and won’t ever get anything.
One poor soul went so far as to say: “The exclusion of Android apps and services allows Amazon to capture these revenue opportunity greatly limits Google to make money off the Kindle fire.”
Stop. Question time. How does Google make money? Think carefully.
Google sells ad-space. When you search using Google, those ads may be displayed and you might click on them. Advertising makes up the biggest chunk (by a large margin) of Google’s revenue.
Amazon is releasing an Internet-capable device with a browser. I think it is safe to say that most people use Google to search for stuff on the Web. So when you open up that “fancy” browser on the Kindle Fire and you search for something, it’s likely that you’ll use Google. Google will then be able to serve you their ads, and you can click on them, and Google gets paid.
What’s more, the Kindle Fire, with its big push as a media consumption device, is a device that many people who wouldn’t otherwise consider a tablet will consider buying. This means many more devices in use than before – even better for Google!
The Kindle Fire is certainly competition. For the iPad? Probably. For other Android tablets? Definitely.
But does it represent competition for Android as a whole? No, I don’t think so. Amazon has taken Android and customised it to suit their needs – what it was intended for.
In the end, competition is great and the ultimate victor, is the consumer.