First, Let Us Run Down Memory Lane
Amazon procured a solid presence in the mobile computing space through the Kindle. Upon making huge revenues, they probably discovered a great minefield in the mobile computing market, and the open source Android platform was a great leverage.
So, Amazon launched their App Store in March this year. Next, they launched Cloud Drive and Cloud Player, and the Amazon Cloud Player was launched on Android alone excluding the iOS.
Finally in November this year, Amazon hit the market with the Kindle Fire, which is completely integrated into the Amazon App Store. The Amazon Kindle Fire runs a very similar version of Android that it could be mistaken for an Android tablet, but this is not an issue.
So, how has Amazon “Kindled Fire” in Google?
Even though the Kindle Fire runs Android apps, installing apps directly from Android Market itself is almost impossible. This can be construed to be a move in the spirit of competition, but there’s more.
According to a recent report on TheVerge this month (16th December, 2011), Amazon crossed the boundary by diverting all requests meant for Android Market back to Amazon App Store. A hidden file, MarketIntentProxy.apk, was discovered to be the perpetrator of the diversion. The file was originally devised to help users route their requests to either Amazon App Store or Android Market depending on the users’ query.
Quite understandably, the Kindle Fire does not have official access to the Android Market, and Amazon only makes profit when people buy from their App Store and not Android Market. However, blatant hijack and diversion of users’ intended Web destinations intensifies the cold war.
Interestingly according to a more recent report on GigaOm, Amazon has quickly tackled this incidence with an update that stops this inauspicious action. However, this is obviously a PR effort since it is still not possible to install apps from the main Android Market without side-loading them.
Why is Amazon Competing So Aggressive in the Mobile Computing Space?
The reason Amazon forayed into producing mobile gadgets in the first place should be clearly understood.
Evidently Amazon leads the online market for retailing physical products, and transactions via mobile devices have been rising strongly. Secondly, Amazon has the requisite infrastructure to run a digital store and compete successfully with Apple Store. Unfortunately, Amazon App Store does not come pre-installed on Android, and the experience of installing Amazon App Store on Android devices was really horrible. Consequently the Kindle Fire, which is currently selling at a slight loss to the company, was launched as an initial entrant to win the heart of mobile gadget lovers.
So, the Kindle Fire was the best solution to ensure that selling (and/or renting) of apps, books, TV shows, movies as well as physical products would be fun for mobile device users.
However, there has been mixed reactions to the strategies used by Amazon. Some people regard them as purely competitive tactics while others deem them to be some form of hostility. Either way, one thing is obvious – Amazon is in a long war with Google (including Apple and many more if you read between the lines).