While Apple’s iPhone 5 will once again take the smartphone by storm, while Google will continue to successfully play the role of Android puppet master, and while Nokia and Microsoft have made a very intriguing new phone, the company to watch in the mobile space is, surprisingly enough, Amazon.
With the recent release of the new Kindle Fire HD, the company’s new 8.9-inch tablet, its clear that Amazon is not willing to stand idly by while the like of Apple and Google (and to a lesser extent Microsoft) dominate the mobile market. Instead, Amazon sees the mobile market as a growth opportunity, extending its e-commerce brand outside of its traditional boundaries, challenging the tech incumbents by offering advanced, functional and yet very affordable technology.
By why does Amazon care so much about the mobile hardware business to begin with? The answer, as CNET writer Ben Parr insightfully notes, is simple: He who controls the hardware, controls the platform. He who controls the platform, wins the war.
The fact of the matter is that if Amazon continues to play by the rules Apple and Google have laid down in the mobile market, it will have to pay them for the privilege, something the e-commerce giant is certainly not interested in. Take for example the company’s iOS app, a particularly useless little piece of software given that Amazon is unable to sell e-books with the app, unless of course it wants to enable in-app purchasing and pay Apple 30 percent (as we’ve seen before, for e-book vendors that’s their entire profit margin).
Recognizing that the mobile sector is where the money is, and hesitant to pay either Google or Apple for the privilege of operating there, there really was only one solution left for Amazon, create its own hardware. By developing its Kindle line of e-readers and tablets Amazon is able to dictate the rules, with more control over user interface and content, while being able to profit from its own endeavours as well.
Now here’s why Amazon is the company to watch in the mobile space: Unwilling to pay its incumbent competitors in order to go mobile, Amazon (as we saw with the original 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet) created its own tablet space, waited until at least one of its competitors entered that space (Google’s Nexus 7), and then blew the entire market up again by creating a larger, more powerful version of its already popular device (the Kindle Fire HD). Not only that, but Amazon has once again competitively priced its new Kindle Fire, with the high-end version available for $299.
On top of Amazon’s tablet success there continue to be persistent rumours that Amazon is looking to enter the smartphone market as well, and why wouldn’t it? Given that smartphones are increasingly becoming content consumption platforms, Amazon would be a fool to avoid this lucrative mobile space, although, as I’ve said before, the ecommerce giant would need to really do things right to avoid becoming yet another feature phone flop.
In the end though, with Amazon firmly entrenched in the 7 to 8 inch tablet sector, should the company be able to develop a comparable smartphone that offers users seamless access to affordable (or perhaps even free) content while still boasting high-end mobile features, the e-commerce giant stands as having a very good shot at upsetting the entire mobile market; not good news if you’re Google or Apple.