Amazon Might be the Ones to Watch

Forget Windows Phone 7, iPhone/iPad, and Android; Amazon just stepped up and became players.  We all know Amazon as the killer of bricks’n’mortar book and music stores, and they’ve pretty much started down the same road for the paper book.  The Kindle reader is pretty damned impressive … but Amazon aren’t a device company; they’re a web service and content sales company.

Amazon have been selling Kindle .mobi books to Kindle device owners and to kindle apps on pretty much any platform worth mentioning.  I’m a happy customer on iPhone and iPad, as are many millions. 

Up to now, that was what they were known for on those platforms.  If you wanted an app, you went to the store owned by publisher of your device OS.  But now Amazon has launched an app store for Android.  Ouch!  That’s gotta be a cold bucket of water to the face to Google.  Android is open source.  Google don’t make it for the good of the planet; it exists to sell something: content and SaaS.  Amazon, also in the content market, have just started competing with Google on their open (I guess) platform.  Good for the consumer; maybe not so good for Google.

Given Amazon’s cross-platform solution for Kindle, will it be long before they start selling apps for iDevices and WP7?  And couldn’t this be great for the consumer?  Today you might buy and app for an iPhone.  You might replace that with an Android phone next year and just get the alternative version of the app … that could be possible if Amazon decide to go cross platform and app publishers adopt that sales model.

My gut tells me that we could see legal anti-competition complaints if blocking actions continue.  An open cross-platform app solution could be fantastic for us consumers.  Heck, it might even lead to interesting cloud management solutions to complexity issues for corporations trying to manage these devices.

Rumour (from Paul Thurrot podcast) is that Amazon are working on an Android powered Kindle.  That makes sense, and might explain the Android app store.  I really hope that doesn’t draw a boundary around the supported platforms.  Unfortunately there is news that Apple will/are allegedly upset with apps (like Kindle) bypassing Apple’s sales model by selling directly.  That could cause issues.  And we also know that Apple might not like another vendor sticking stuff onto their iDevices outside of iTunes.

The news doesn’t stop there.  Apple launched Cloud Drive, an online storage system.  It sounds like it’s a bit crude right now.  You get 5 GB free storage.  You can buy more and you get 20 GB for every MP3 album that you buy from Amazon (allegedly cheaper than iTunes).  Google provide something similar, and MS has SkyDrive at a fixed 25 GB.  I’d love to see a clean interface between my computer and these storage solutions.  I’d also love to see a simple & reliable backup tool so I can backup My Documents (or whatever).  It’s been quite a while and we’ve not seen anything like that from MS.  I guess they have no interest.  We’ve seen how Amazon has innovated their cloud IaaS products and maybe they’ll do the same with their retail products.

It’s all early days.  This stuff is going to shake up much more over the coming years.  Content and services will be the king-maker, and maybe Amazon can be that king?  History suggests that they should not be underestimated.

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