Apple decided to focus on selling people on music. Initially their own music on CDs and then ultimately through the iTunes store. They released a low specification but simple way to listen to your music on the go. Nothing more. They iterated and evolved this one basic thing – portable music – into the Apple behemoth we have today.
Amazon are repeating the idea but they started in reverse with their core strength – selling books. They made a basic ebook reader to serve those books and have been iterating on that simple idea ever since.
Today both companies have a small, tightly focussed range of hardware products linked seamlessly to voluminous stores delivering unlimited media content at barely more than a couple of touches. Perhaps most importantly of all they already have our credit card details. Despite the superficial differences in hardware, Amazon and Apple now have more in common than any other competitor is ever likely to have. The tablet race only has two horses now.
Another twist also announced by Amazon is their own WebKit based browser called Silk which promises to speed up the user experience by predicatively pre-caching the web on it’s massive EC2 network. It’s one thing to take a version of Android, fork it and make it your own but it’s quite another to obscure Google’s view of our behaviour on the mobile web – the whole point of Android.
Here’s Chris Espinosa:
"And all of this on Google’s dime. They use a back-revved version of Android, not Honeycomb; they don’t use Google’s web browser; they can intermediate user click through on Google search results so Google doesn’t see the actual user behaviour. Google’s whole play of promoting Android in order to aggregate user behaviour patterns to sell to advertisers is completely subverted by Amazon’s intermediation.
Fire isn’t a noun, it’s a verb, and it’s what Amazon has done in the targeted direction of Google. This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network."
Indeed. We can effectively rule HP and RIM out of the race. But what is Google going to do? Android is fragmenting at a pace and Microsoft is getting Samsung to pay them to use Android. Perhaps Google can use it’s recent acquisition of Motorola to get a device to market? But how long will that take?
Google may have the web but in five to ten years will anybody want it?