Google and Amazon have a funny relationship with each other. Amazon’s line of tablets, the Kindle Fire series, are powered by a heavily skinned Android operating system. And yet, Amazon has long maintained its own app ecosystem, and pitted it against the Play Store. Noticeably absent from Amazon’s app store is anything having to do with Google – Maps, Gmail, YouTube, etc. On the other side, Google devices, like the Chromecast, don’t work with Amazon hardware. For a cord-cutter like me, who loves Amazon’s various services, this can be a little frustrating.
But it’s not all bad. Recently, Amazon released its Instant Video app into the Google Play store, eliciting an enormous sigh of relief from this Amazon user in particular. Though the new app still doesn’t work with the Chromecast, at least we no longer have to jump through Amazon’s hoops to install the app for the popular video service. For those of us who change phones often, this is extremely refreshing.
While I’m sure there are perfectly good business reasons to keep these ecosystems separate, it seems to me that it would make all the sense in the world to hook these two kids up with a car and a Denny’s gift card, and watch the magic happen. Consider the benefits — on both sides — that would come with a marriage between Amazon and Google.
As I already mentioned, I’m a fan of Amazon’s tablets. I have an Amazon Fire 6” and 7” tablet, and I use them both a lot. But I really only use them to consume content – Netflix, Amazon Video, etc. I can’t use them in any kind of meaningful way, because in my world, that requires Google services. Both of my Kindle tablets have the offer screens, that allow Amazon to sell advertising for my eyeballs. But those tablets pretty much sit on a shelf until it’s time to watch Netflix. That’s a waste of time that Amazon could be using to sell me things.
Considering the state of the tablet market, Google could probably use as much tablet eye time as possible. Depending on which numbers you look at, Amazon is somewhere between third and fifth in market share. That’s a lot of data Google could be collecting and using. Plus, it behooves Amazon to leverage a new partnership with Google to sell even more tablets. Imagine if the full suite of Google services was available on an attractive tablet that sells for $50. I’d buy a 6-pack just to have some backups.
I’m certain I’m not the only one.
Imagine if the full suite of Google services was available on an attractive tablet that sells for $50.
Bringing Amazon into the fold would also help further consolidate the Android platform under Google’s umbrella. Google has been making moves for years now to try and standardize the Android platform. OEMs still use skins to differentiate their devices, but Amazon is still quite an outlier to Google’s efforts.
As for Chromecast, Amazon needs to make that work. Some will argue that the Chromecast is a competitor against the Fire Stick, and to some extent that makes sense. However, the Chromecast is a lot more limited in functionality compared to the Fire Stick. I personally prefer using dedicated streaming devices with apps, rather than having to control everything through my phone.
That might just be me, but I don’t personally consider them much of the same thing, now that I own both. I prefer using the Fire Stick, except for using my Google Home to control my kitchen TV.
Alexa can’t do that, but that’s a different editorial.
Not cut and dried
There is a question of lost revenue from Amazon’s App store – if anyone actually buys apps from Amazon’s app store. I mean, I never have, but maybe you have. Amazon could still maintain its own app store if it wanted to – it has so far, but such a venture seems silly when the Play store is suddenly available for Amazon devices.
At the end of the day, Amazon gets an increase in sales for its devices, and therefore content. Google gets more eyeballs looking at its apps and services. It’s a win-win solution for both parties. Again, it’s worth mentioning that there are probably some financial considerations to be taken into account – I doubt this bifurcation was made arbitrarily. But this is a move that could help both companies, and it’s one that is long overdue.
They have already taken the first step, so we can only hope that subsequent steps are coming and coming soon.