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.


Problems ahead

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 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.

See also:

Google in control: Does Android need to be more like iOS?

November 13, 2015

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 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?

Kris Carlon
Kris Carlon is a Senior Editor at Android Authority. He is a half-British Australian who lives in Berlin, travels a lot and is always connected to a laptop, phone, smartwatch or tablet (and occasionally a book).
  • Luis E. Cornejo

    No Play Store, No Thank You!

  • Alejandro Rodriguez Mann

    Jajaja Amazon fail all over again

  • Vats

    Buying an android phone without Google core apps and services is like taken an aspirin for cancer…. So why not spend your billions on R&D for a new OS instead of relying on Android ultimately , amazon?

    • Ryan Neely

      Nobody would develop for it.

    • Toukale

      This is like skating where the puck was, which is a losing battle. That fight have already been decided, both Google and Apple won. Anyone else who think they still have a chance are just wasting their time and money. Microsoft and BB threw in the towel not too long ago, having come to the realization it’s a fruitless endeavor.

    • balcobomber25

      It’s too late in the game to develop your OS. Apple and Android both have over 1.5 million apps available with more coming out everyday. Without Apps a phone won’t sell, just ask Microsoft.

    • devilreaper

      See windows phone. Beautiful and smooth experience. One would even say it is better than ios and android. The thing that kills it is the apps. Yes windows 10 tries to bring more apps by leveraging on the pc market share but I don’t see windows phone getting more than 20 % marketshare even if verything is going better than planned. Now this is for a 6 year old OS which also has a famous desktop version. Imagine amazon developing an OS. They either need to bring Play Store Access ( BB 11) or they need to design it from scratch ( Tizen, though tizen is majorly used for IOT). What you say might be possible if Amazon wants to go bankrupt.

  • tranceformer978

    The Fire Phone isn’t that bad once I got CM on it.

    • balcobomber25

      Any phone can be good with a change of software, but as a phone the way most consumers will use it (Fire OS) it is terrible.

  • balcobomber25

    Samsung loves to load crapware on phones, they will be all over this in exchange for $$$$.

  • Prox

    No Amazon, you ruin the android experience for everyone.

  • David Bowline

    Go for it Amazon! You’re just throwing your money away. Since you’re the closed ios of the android world, I’m all for you screwing yourself.

  • peerpressure

    As someone with a Fire phone, I don’t mind the Fire OS. It has its perks. Of course, I have the Google Play store installed, so I’m not missing out on anything Android. I would definitely not want to buy a phone that would only get the Amazon app store. There are too many apps that they don’t have that would make owning their phone an exercise in frustration.

    • Stephen Sharp

      Same. I like their different take on Android but…

  • alan4195

    For starters, there’s no question this strategy is going to fail for Amazon. I don’t care how many poor people in China and India don’t have access to the Play Store. It’s going to fail. Period.

    However, this won’t stop Amazon from trying again even after a 2nd spectacular failure. Why? See Windows Phone.

    Just like Microsoft, Amazon knows that there’s a ton of money to be made if they can somehow manage to wrangle even 20% of the smartphone market. And like Microsoft, they can afford to throw darts at the board for years before their bottom line even registers a blip.

    Unfortunately, Amazon and Microsoft both underestimate the singular importance of the almighty App. If there’s even one key app unavailable to a smartphone user, they’re going to switch to the platform that has it. Plain and simple. Why this simple concept has eluded Microsoft for as many years as it has it beyond me. Amazon’s only hope for success is to learn from Microsoft’s folly and use their considerable financial resources to gain (major) app parity with Android and iOS.

    Updating FireOS’s atrociously bad UI couldn’t hurt either.

  • donuts

    No. It’s career suicide for a manufacturer. Love you amazon, , but stay in your lane

  • OlayTerry

    I think it’s a bad idea. I just don’t see how and why Amazon can’t see this.

  • Karly Johnston

    I don’t want your services baked deep into my phone thanks, its like pulling buckshot out of a duck.

  • ErnChen

    Is anyone else bothered by the comparison to Google’s own Nexus program? Y’all must be using that term extremely loosely.