A recent Re/code piece tries to explore the motives behind Amazon’s physical bookstores. The author tries to make several assertions that the Amazon spokesperson refutes as the primary motive. Maybe, just maybe, Amazon is doing this simply because they can?
Recent news indicates that the Amazon Fire phone is dead. Rumours abound that Amazon may be releasing a $50 tablet. Is any of this surprising? Not really. Perhaps a bigger question is why would Amazon bother with hardware (particularly since it appears they sell the stuff more or less for cost)? There is a good reason, and part of those reasons are why their phone effort can be shut down.
Amazon continued to ease their way into becoming a electronics company with their most recent Kindle announcements. The new devices (Kindle paperwhite, Kindle Fire HD 7″ , Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ with 4G LTE) continue to focus on portable access to Amazon content. What was absent was the rumoured phone, but given the current pace of change at Amazon, this isn’t surprising. There were some interesting technology/usage pieces from today’s announcement, but there is also a bigger, and more intriguing element, to the whole thing.
While writing my most recent entry on an Amazon smartphone, it got me thinking: this could actually be a brilliant, devious and nefarious plan to undermine and take over mobile computing. I don’t believe for a second that I’m the only one who thought of this, but the way Amazon has proceeded so far has really been quite clever. This doesn’t disrupt mobile computing, but it could result in them replacing the incumbents. If this is indeed their plan, and it works, they have to be congratulated. But before discussing the hypothesis, it is worth discussing why this isn’t a disruption.
Word is that Amazon is supposedly considering a smartphone for the Kindle lineup. They are apparently lining up suppliers, and building a patent portfolio to try to forestall the usual legal shenanigans. But why would Amazon bother? I’ve always argued that Amazon is a content company first, and any hardware they make is to sell more content. Amazon’s goal here isn’t to take over the hardware market. Their goal is consistent with everything they’ve done: lower the barrier to entry to get at their content.
Some writers have posited that the Nexus 7 is really meant to go head-to-head with the Kindle Fire, and not the iPad. When you look at the specs, and the positioning messages on the Nexus 7 web site, it might seem that way. The thing it, it assumes that Amazon is a “competitor” in the tablet market in the first place. I’m not convinced that Amazon really cares that the Nexus 7 is better than the Kindle Fire, because they aren’t in the hardware game, they are in the content game. A successful Nexus 7 helps Amazon as much (if not more) as it would Google.
For the past few years, a new player has been quietly building their presence in the technology world. They offer one of the best cloud-based computing environments, available at pay-as-you-go prices. They own a significant piece of the downloadable content market. They offer a feature-rich but affordable tablet. Oh, and they also sell books. Amazon has gone from redesigning how warehouses and distribution works to becoming a major part of the technology world.