Amazon is trying to cut a deal with major Android OEMs to get its software on your next smartphone. Amazon has reportedly discussed working at a “factory level” with manufacturers in order to get its services baked into Android in a much deeper way than simply pre-loading apps. Considering the massive failure of the Fire Phone, Amazon needs a new game plan, but I’m not sure this is it.
Amazon is basically looking to start it's own Nexus program: working with a hardware partner to build phones on which to deliver its core software services rather than Google's.
Amir Efrati at The Information has spoken with multiple people involved in Amazon’s efforts to get more access to a deeper layer of Android than it currently has. Amazon is basically looking to start it’s own Nexus program: working with a hardware partner to build phones on which to deliver its core software services rather than Google’s.
The result would be like a cross between a Fire Phone under another name and a Nexus running Fire OS. Although it’s not entirely clear if Amazon would want the devices running Fire OS or simply have more Amazon apps and services baked into Android in a much deeper way than it currently has with partners like AT&T and Samsung. Considering the Fire Phone failed pretty spectacularly, Amazon is looking to take the safer software route and let others worry about the hardware.
The problem with Amazon’s plan is the stranglehold Google has over manufacturers. If manufacturers want one Google app they have to take them all. If a manufacturer uses Google services on one device in their product lineup they have to use Google services on every phone in their product lineup. Want Google Play? Then you can’t install the Amazon App Store as well. Figuring out a way to agree to Amazon’s plan without getting in trouble with Google is going to be a big problem for manufacturers.
The other problem is that Google is simply better at what it does than Amazon. Amazon has its own perfectly capable app store, cloud messaging service, maps and ad platform and so on, with much better product tie-ins to Amazon.com and Amazon Prime, but there is precious little reason for OEMs to prefer Amazon’s version to Android over Google’s. The fact that Google makes it near impossible to do so only compounds the problem.
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But Amazon does have a few things going for it besides its own alternatives to Google apps and services. For starters, in its desperation, Amazon is much more likely to go easy with manufacturers in terms of what it would allow on an “Amazon Nexus”, whereas Google is notoriously restrictive with OEMs. The Amazon market place is also a very valuable space for smartphone manufacturers, and increased visibility on Amazon.com for Amazon’s hardware partners could be worth a lot of money. But despite the benefits, it still sounds like a tough sell to me.
Do you think OEMs will go for this? What benefits or problems do your foresee?