Monday, December 10, 2012

No Amazon Phone For Me!

Amazon shipment
Amazon shipment (Photo credit: enno)
There have been rumors for awhile now that Amazon is working on a phone. It's probably safe to assume that an Amazon phone would run Android since that is the case with their tablets. Having recently acquired a Nexus 4 I'm not going to be in the market for awhile but if I were I wouldn't be interested in an Amazon phone.

Amazon is Android without Google. No native GMail app, no Google navigation app, no Google+, etc. Amazon's ecosystem makes this kind of work on tablets but that ecosystem advantage gets much smaller on a phone where people are less likely to want to watch a movie or partake of Amazon's other offerings. The use case for a phone is different than a tablet and a lot of things Google brings to the mobile experience play particularly well on phones. Not having those capabilities present on a phone would make for a less satisfying experience.

This problem would be mitigated somewhat if the browser that came with Amazon's tablets weren't so bad. In my experience it tends to be slow, prone to crashing and offers very poor support for GMail and Google+ in particular. GMail is kind of usable but Google+ is nearly useless. Its just not a good experience.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not your typical user but I think a lot of people would miss Google's navigation software and be frustrated by the lack of choice in the Amazon App store

The answer to this problem is obvious. Amazon needs to get Google to make their apps available on the Amazon App site. I suspect there are roadblocks on both sides of this equation though.

On the Amazon side is a desire to want to control the user experience. A more cynical way of putting this would be to say they want to have a clear field when it comes to monetizing their mobile devices. Bringing Google into the picture makes that impossible. Google is a profitable company for a reason. 

On the Google side there may be frustration with Amazon using Android for free and essentially giving nothing back to Google. Google can't be happy with Amazon's decision to change the default search engine on Fire tablets to Microsoft's Bing either. Google and Amazon don't compete in all the same markets but there is a growing overlap and that is likely a detriment as well.

On the other hand Google has good support for iOS and Apple is clearly a competitor as well. Google does this because it makes business sense which is why I suspect they would come to an accommodation with Amazon if an attempt were made.

Which brings me to the conclusion that the real holdup here is Amazon. 

If I'm right than Amazon has a clear path forward if they really are planning on releasing a phone. I won't say that the Google Apps being missing would kill an Amazon phone but I do believe it would have a sizable impact on sales and reduce the viability of such a product. 

A smart phone without Google apps just isn't as smart as it should be. When you're competing with Apple, Google and a bunch of other well established players its not a good idea to be running the race with your legs tied together.

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