Amazon and the Kindle Fire. Google and the Android-powered tablets, and Apple and the iPad. While Apple still has a huge lead and foothold on the mobile market, I think everyone else FINALLY gets it.
Amazon released the Kindle Fire on 15-Nov-11. Barns & Noble released the Nook Tablet a day or so after that. Both tablets run Google’s Android operating system. The Nook is priced at $249 USD. The Kindle Fire is priced at $199 USD.
Apple – The Leader of the Pack
Despite the fact that Apple’s products boast quite a premium price – the Apple iPad starts at $499 USD – they continue to dominate the tablet market, and their share of the smartphone market is improving. The reason why can be summed up in three words – The Apple Ecosystem.
Through iTunes, Apple’s ecosystem hub, users can sync files, PIM data and browser shortcuts. They can buy, rent and load music, video, pictures, eBooks and applications. They can configure and sync all of their content to an online music locker – iCloud – all at once; and all of their mobile devices, the iPad, iPhone and iPod Family products, run the same operating system, giving users a standardized user experience across all of their mobile devices, regardless of price point. All user data is handled in the same way, and can be shared among authorized family users. The devices are also extremely intuitive and easy to use.
It’s taken Apple eight years to establish, create and refine this consumer ecosystem. It’s taken them that long to build and nurture the vendor relationships and to create and provide the developer community with tools that work within this construct. Apple has defined their consumer ecosystem and has established themselves as the undisputed leader in this space. Ask any tech industry analyst or pundit. They’ll tell you that exactly that. Apple is the company to beat.
Google – Always a Bride’s Maid…
Two years ago, I approached Google with this particular issue and outlined a way for them to compete in, if not own, this space. FroYo was coming online, they had recently introduced the Nexus One, and had authorized Samsung to make and distribute the Galaxy S line of Smartphones. Those could have done anything that the iPhone 3GS was doing, and I felt that my idea, if not dead on, was at least on the right track. They had much of the work done, but just needed to pull it together, insure it integrated appropriately and package it up. It would have given them a leg up on the remaining, or up-and-coming, competition.
Google’s verbal response to me was clear – mind your own beeswax.
They stated they were not, Apple, didn’t want or need to be like Apple, and were frankly, smarter than Apple.
When I asked why then, they or anyone else for that matter, hadn’t been able to crack the digital music player nut, and pointed out that the only real competition – Microsoft’s Zune – had recently been discontinued, I didn’t get a response. They simply ended the dialog.
Interesting how they introduced Google Music, their own online music locker service; and then recently updated it with the ability to purchase and download songs. They’ve also recently added Google Books to their core Android application collection and updated the Android Market to sell not only books, but music as well. Unfortunately, they’re still missing the desktop photo manager/editor integration. Their also missing integration for a couple other components, but I’m certain they’ll get there eventually. They’re going to have to to remain competitive in this space.
You’re welcome, Google. I should probably send you a pretty hefty invoice for the IP.
Amazon – Never mind, Google…We got this.
Early in 2011, Amazon set the world on its ear – quite literally – when it released and made available to the general public, three specific services: Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web and Amazon Cloud Player for Android. This development was significant in that it was the first instance of a music locker service that did not get seriously challenged by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) or any other music industry organization or coalition. The key was the way music was getting loaded and played. Users could only access any of their music from one location or device at a time, and sharing of any music was strictly a no-no.
The only thing the RIAA could say was a resounding, “yeah, but…”
Score one for the consumer or little guy, who finally got to store their music in the cloud, and literally play the songs they owned from anywhere they could get an internet connection.
In the same month, actually a few days later, they opened the Amazon App Store for Android, offering a free paid app every week. Pairing both of these together, Amazon found a way to get multimedia content to its users, right to their devices. The music content would play and sync with Cloud Drive via Amazon MP3 on the device, and their App Store undercut Google’s store by offering at least 1 free app per week.
Where Apple pulled together the ENTIRE ecosystem – PIM, Sync Services, multimedia content, apps, eBooks, pictures, etc., Amazon gave users multimedia content, apps and eBooks, and then relied upon the Google Android infrastructure for PIM and Sync Services. It’s ingenious actually, as they could then introduce their own devices (the Kindle Fire, for example), and attract users to their content stores. That’s where the real money is.
Amazon realized this, and as such added additional features to its Amazon Prime services, including unlimited video streaming right to your Android device, including their Kindle Fire tablet.
Come back next time, and I’ll pull everything together and help you decide who is REALLY on top of the mobile landscape.