Apr 23, 2012
A lot is made of the fact that Amazon is using Android to power their own device, and their own app store is making more money per user than Google Play. The separation is interesting. But why does it continue to exist? Why haven’t Google teamed up with Amazon?
Now, the two companies are competing, particularly in that both are trying to sell music, movies, books, and apps to consumers. It might make such a relationship thorny because of that competition, but it’s no more competitive than Apple and Google, is it? Steve Jobs was famously no fan of Android, but Google still finds ways to make money off of iOS â€“ and possibly even more than they do with Android, as was widely and possibly falsely reported.
The Kindle Fire
So what if Amazon wants to skin Android to look the way they want? Google would be remiss to not try and get their services on there. Get Gmail, their web browser (particularly Google Chrome), and their other services on the Kindle Fire.
They need to treat devices that use Android like they do Gmail. Users will sometimes use their own email client with Gmail. However, the ultimate goal is to keep them coming back to Gmail, and to Google services. They need to get on the Kindle Fire and keep people using Google services while they use their OS. Will it be possible to merge the Amazon Appstore with Google Play somehow? Unlikely, but the point of Android’s openness is that it was possible for this to happen. Even a possibility of merging purchases, like the way that some computer games offer Steam codes without actually selling the game on Steam, would help get people back on the Google ecosystem.
Of course, Amazon may be weary of relying on Google in the way that Apple may regret having Google services so tied in to their system. But Google is such an institution that it’s difficult to make a competent mobile device without integrating with Google services in some way. It would materially benefit the Kindle Fire and future Kindle tablets, if not Amazon. That’s where Google could come in from a position of strength.
As we’ve seen with the BlackBerry Playbook, it could be possible for Amazon to make their own OS while maintaining Android compatibility. Over time, that Android compatibility could be unnecessary, given how attractive the Kindle Fire ecosystem is. So Google needs to make sure they’re still a part of it, or they’ll be left behind.
If Google can’t beat Amazon, they need to join them if they still want to have some semblance of control over Android.