Adapt and Expand: two words that have become the mantra of success in the modern technology sector. Embracing that philosophy, we’ve seen the likes of Google, Apple, and even Facebook modify their respective business models over the last several years, transitioning away from a single focus on one particular technology (search engine, social network etc…) towards becoming a comprehensive hub for our digital existence.
Not to be outdone, however, Amazon has recently emerged as another player fighting to be the centre of our digital worlds. The once relatively mundane online bookstore has adapted to the changing technology scene, first growing itself into a comprehensive ecommerce hub and now, if rumours are true, developing a mobile presence to continue to compete for a slice of the digital content market.
Late last week rumours reached a fever pitch that the ecommerce giant is looking to enter the smartphone arena, offering its own Amazon branded phone that would run, strangely enough, its rival Google’s Android platform. But even with such a device will Amazon be able to compete with the likes of Google, Apple, and now even Samsung in the mobile sector, or will its phone simply come off as nothing more than an ecommerce feature phone?
One of the key things to remember in finding smartphone success is that users, in general, want a versatile device, a multi-faceted platform that allows users to communicate in a variety of ways and interact with digital content in a variety of ways. To that end I’ve always questioned the development of phones from company’s that I think have a singular focus, my thought process being that when these phones hit the market they’ll be received as nothing more than a glorified feature phone, and thus quickly fade away.
In fact, I thought the same thing years ago when I first heard that Facebook might be looking to enter the mobile fray, raising questions regarding whether smartphone users really want a phone with such deep social network integration. Sure there would be some people that would like it, but appealing to small demographics is again the role of a feature phone.
But things might be different for Amazon, given that the ecommerce giant has already had success competing in the digital content arena with its Kindle Fire tablet, meaning that perhaps the way has been paved for the company to expand into the smartphone sector as well. To that end, rumours are circulating that Amazon would be following its Kindle Fire strategy as well, avoiding direct competition with market incumbents like Apple by appealing to the budget end of the mobile market.
Truth be told, I really don’t know what to think about an Amazon smartphone, given the fact that it’s almost unprecedented for a company like Amazon to reach into markets so far afield from its home turf, as it were.
As telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan notes,“Amazon.com is a heavy hitter in the marketplace. Smartphones are growing like crazy. They have sold plenty of Kindles. Put all those together, and this is a huge opportunity for them if they play their cards right,” adding that Amazon really can do anything it wants with its smartphone. “It’s a blank slate right now,” Kagan explains, “Amazon.com can be really creative. They can have customers read e-books and purchase things from the Amazon.com site with new software that makes it easy.”
In the end, I really wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Amazon jump on the ‘phablet’ bandwagon, creating a hybrid device that people could use for communication and, of course, purchasing lots of cool stuff from Amazon.com…it’s what the phone is for after all.