Think about it, Amazon has quietly put itself in position to rival the most dominate companies in various technological outlets. They now compete with Netflix, Apple, Google, Microsoft and to a smaller extent even EMC. Is Amazons next big project in the form of hardware? Perhaps a tablet or another mobile device such as a smart phone? Well, I guess that depends.
It all depends on profitability, forecasts and other financial aspects that I couldn’t possibly begin to offer a relevant or knowledgeable opinion on. Of course this entire piece is speculation and purely my own opinion but if the stars align (which they just might be) Amazon could swoop in and competently challenge Google, Apple and Microsoft. Separately they are but solutions or alternatives to each platforms services and in some cases short comings. Together they could make a platform to rival them all, pending of course some unforeseen horrid synergy.
Amazon’s Cloud storage solution offers what would be an easy way to transfer, share and sync files between a smart phone, tablet or even PC/Mac. You get 5GB for free and upgrade prices are very affordable ($20/yr – 20GB, $50/yr – 50GB, etc.) even when they aren’t compared to services such as Apple’s Mobile Me ($99/yr 20GB of storage, 200GB of monthly data transfer). Their cloud solution even offers you the ability to play and stream your music collection virtually anywhere with use of the web Amazon cloud player (also available on Android). Their VOD (Video on Demand) lineup may not contain more videos then Netflix but they offer uber affordable prices in which to purchase videos, that can be viewed from anywhere. And then we have the Amazon Prime perk, where more than 5,000 movies and TV shows can be streamed on your Mac or Windows PC, as well as select set-top boxes and Internet-connected TVs all free with your annual $79 Prime membership fee.
With just this alone Amazon has cloud storage and a streaming music and video solution all of which can be used and accessed from almost anywhere. Google’s music app is best described as functional and there still working on a streaming solution, Apple has iTunes and Air play but it’s advantages fall short of accessibility when held up to Amazons cloud option. Add in Apple’s Mobile Me and then you have a price war, advantage Amazon. Not only is the scalability higher for Amazon but the perks that the web site offer (depending on the person) may well be a better deal than what Apple offers. For $99 (Amazon Prime $79 + $20 for 20GB of cloud based storage) cloud storage, instant streaming of music and video on top of the shipping discounts offered from Amazon.com, just might appeal more then what Apple has and currently what Google lacks. Microsoft at the moment is still in it’s infancy with Windows Phone 7 so my guess is they’ll see how all of this plays out and see how best to move forward with possibly a Zune + Skydrive + Office 365 + Windows live messenger solution.
But for a mobile device as we all know, applications, better simplified this generation as apps, make the device. Amazons app store while still new doesn’t boast as many apps as either Android or Apple, does offer an alternative. They’ve already somehow swooned Rovio (creators of Angry Birds) to place the newest version of the bird flinging game, Rio, exclusively in their app store. Taking a quick gander at the store and you’ll notice that some apps are even cheaper such as Scan2PDF Mobile 2.0, though im not sure if developers are appropriately compensated for lower listing prices. Nonetheless, it offers more choice. Not particularly fond of the 30% cut you have shelve off to Apple? Have concerns with the Android App store? Amazon could be the answer, besides who can argue with the ability to Test Drive an app for 30 minuets before deciding to purchase it.
Amazon also can offer an enterprise solution that none of the others (Google, Apple or Microsoft) have in place. Amazons EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) with the addition of its AVP (Virtual Private Cloud) gives business the opportunity to allow secure virtual connections to virtual machines which are all highly scalable in terms of computing power. Amazon’s Web Services, which include the aforementioned EC2 and VPC also include Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) which provides a bulk email sending service and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) which provides the cloud based storage. The foundation is there, it’s just not rolled into one cohesive package or platform with each solution interwoven for simplicity and usability.
The one thing missing from it all is an operating system, the glue to bind them all together. It’s quite possible Amazon will remain open for use to the likes of Android and others, not indulging to enter the OS battlefield. It’s quite possible they could just launch Amazon branded hardware, not manufactured by them specifically but still under their blessings. At the moment is it too farfetched to picture a tablet or smart phone with these offerings worked into the core of the software? While it would be hard to picture Google, Apple or even Microsoft allowing such a thing on their device or hardware while their solutions play second fiddle, it is the only piece of the puzzle absent from such a solution from Amazon. Then again look at what they’ve done with the Kindle and Linux, even at it’s core Android is derived of a Linux kernel. Maybe Linux is their answer, maybe not.
Meanwhile Amazon’s revenue sprouts to just north of $13 billion, E-books expected to generate $184 million along with somewhere around 4 million Kindles sold just in the last quarter and analyst predict for another 10 million Kindle devices in 2011. They’ve already successfully launched one piece of hardware, running on Linux, whats stopping them from launching another?