Would Amazon ever make a phone? Sure, it’s a crowded market right now. And we’re currently looking at more mobile operating systems on their deathbeds than we are at one’s that will succeed. Even Microsoft, a software giant of old has yet to get their new Mobile OS in to the hands of even 1% of the US smartphone market. But Amazon has a curated Appstore, Amazon has a simple user interface, and Amazon has a store for Music, a store for Movies, and for Television shows. Who else has all these things? Apple, that’s who.
The Fire has been a smashing success as far as hardware sales go. Keeping in mind that Amazon has to sell a lot of Prime subscriptions and media to make up for loses on the hardware. Of course, that’s what the Fire is made to do, and Amazon is perfectly capable of making each one pay for itself.
Some would say that the Kindle Fire is the most successful Android tablet to date. I’m not one of those people. I wouldn’t call the Fire an Android tablet, and I would wager that there’s some people at Google that would agree with me. It may be a forked version of the same code, but the Fire is clearly running Amazon OS. This is a pretty common practice among Linux distributions. Just like Debian and Ubuntu, Android and Amazon OS are close cousins.
It is rumored that in May, Amazon will announce it’s follow up, the Kindle Fire 2. I’m not really one to get excited about tablets, but it’s nice to see anyone other than Apple make serious sales in the market. Hopefully the rumors are true and we won’t be seeing another Playbook clone hit the streets. It was a smart cost and time saving move to use the same firm that made the Playbook but now, that Amazon knows they can really move the units, they might branch out.
So let’s fast forward to Q1 of next year, the Fire 1 was a success and is causing a huge boost in media sales and Prime subscriptions. The Fire 2, probably released sometime in the summer, has very strong holiday sales. Let’s say they take the market by storm and match or even exceed iPad market share between the original and the 2. What’s next for Amazon? Do they keep just churning out tablets and e-readers? What if Amazon sees the great devices they built, not just for books, but music, movies, television, and portable Amazon shopping centers, then someone on the team says, “there’s another market.”
Amazon would have advantages out of the gate that Web OS and Blackberry 10 didn’t. For one, under the hood, Amazon OS is very much Android. It takes little to no effort for Android developers to port or simply submit their apps to Amazon’s platform. Second, Amazon will already have a large dedicated customer base using their OS. It’ll be pretty easy to convince a bunch of happy Fire owners that they’ll be even happier if their next phone can do all the tricks their favorite tablet can.
I would say, that it’s a very real possibility that if Amazon took this route, if they took this very seriously and made one very good phone to start with, that they could do a lot more damage to Android than Apple has any chance to do. A close cousin of Android with almost all the same apps, an end to end media platform, and no Google services in site. It’s probably a nightmare that’s been keeping the boys at Mountain View up at night. And if Apple had any sense, a Fire phone sold as a loss leader (or even to break even) should scare the crap out of them too.
I know that this early in the game for this much speculation, but I can guarantee you that I’m not the first person to think of this. And I would wager that this idea has already crossed Jeff Bezos’ desk and is being pondered as I type this. Amazon has already taken a pretty successful first shot at turning the tablet market on it’s head, maybe they’ll do the same in the phone market.