What Kindle Means for Android

[This is a copy of a guest post I wrote for GeekList. Find the original here.]

I still think Amazon would be stupid to build a phone. But I no longer believe they won’t do it. Within the next 6 months Amazon will go big with their own Android based smartphone.

And when they do, it will be the moment that everybody else realizes that Google lost control of Android ages ago.

“Google has already lost control of Android and has zero chance of regaining control.”
–me, January 14, 2012

“We treat Android like Linux, and so it’s a base operating system layer.”
-Jeff Bezos, September 6, 2012

In my post titled “Fragmentation Is Not The End of Android” I explained how to think about mobile platform fragmentation by breaking the problem down along the 5 axes where a platform can be fragmented. Then I gave examples of how fragmentation along any of these 5 axis, can impact the participants in the mobile ecosystem.

In that post, I focused mostly on discussing the OS Providers. I included commentary on Apple, Google, and Microsoft highlighting their asymmetric competitive nature, but focused on Google and why it had lost control of Android, and how, I believe, it will never regain control.

I explained how none of the tactics Google might try will work; the proverbial camel’s nose is under the tent and Google will never regain control of Android.

I ended that post with this:

Oh, and if after reading the above tome, you still don’t agree. Consider this article  about television. Remember, Android is not just about mobile…

Why? Because at the time that post was written, the Tablet Wars had not really begun, and most people were focused on the Smartphone Wars.

Originally, I was skeptical about how serious Amazon was about becoming either an OS Provider or Device Manufacturer. I (still) believe they can accomplish their business goals by providing their shopping & reading experiences on ALL devices, but Mr. Bezos & Co. appear to disagree with me and it is now clear they are diving head-long into selling their own devices, running their own OS, directly to consumers.

Amazon is directly competing with Google now on all of the “axes of fragmentation” of the mobile platform known as Android:

  • User Interface – The Kindle (and whatever Amazon’s smartphone is called) throw out Google’s UI look and feel and replace it with one unique to Amazon.
  • Device – Amazon is now, effectively, a device manufacturer.
  • Operating System – As Jeff Bezos points out “We treat Android like Linux…”.
  • Marketplace – This is Amazon’s core competency. No need for Play here.
  • Service – Fire up a Kindle and try to find any evidence of a Google service.

Other than some leakage of the Android brand within 3rd party apps, Amazon is doing all it can to keep its users from knowing their devices run Android.

In writing this, I am assuming Amazon will be at least moderately successful with both their tablets and phones. If that assumption holds true, then there is no turning back for Android.

“Google has already lost control of Android and has zero chance of regaining control.”
–me, January 14, 2012 and again today.

© Charlie Kindel. All Rights Reserved.


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