Read Michel Mace’s article, below, and then go read Chris Ziegler’s article, excerpted here. We’re in for some interesting times.
Initially, I’d figured the Appstore wouldn’t be much more than a way for Amazon to earn a little coin off the booming, highly profitable mobile app business. Instead, they’ve picked the very lock that Google uses to control Android. By creating a legitimate Market alternative with over 10,000 apps (at last count) and the full backing of the Amazon juggernaut, Jeff Bezos no longer needs a thing from Google. And here’s the craziest part: on the strength of the entirety of the Amazon ecosystem — Kindle, Whispersync, and so on — the Kindle Fire will be the greatest and most popular Android-powered tablet ever created. By miles and miles and miles. And it’ll happen without Google’s blessing, without Andy Rubin’s blessing, without the Android Market.
Amazon now stands poised to take one of Google’s most critical assets — Android — and turn it against them. Praise for the Fire’s deeply-customized version of Android 2.3 has been nearly universal, and make no mistake, there’s no going back; this is Amazon’s operating system now, built atop a road-tested core that Google served up free of charge. As Nilay notes, the Fire is all about consuming media — it’s not a tablet designed for general computing — and as such, I don’t think that it competes head-to-head with any Honeycomb tablet on the market today. That said, it certainly sets the stage for Amazon to move deeper into mobile hardware in the coming years — and if I were Google, Apple, or Microsoft, I’d go ahead and assume that’s exactly what’s happening (in fact, the rumor mill already has other tablets in the pipeline). After all, it wasn’t long ago that we thought it was preposterous that a search engine might create a phone popular enough to take over the world; it’s no more preposterous to think that the world’s largest online retailer could do the same.