Will Amazon Upset The Google Shopping Cart?

One of the most interesting developments in the Android ecosystem these days is the emergence and rumors surrounding Amazon. Quickly, the rumor: Amazon will release an Android-based tablet. Why do I find this interesting? Because Amazon is one of the few companies who can thumb their nose at Google and get away with it.

To understand why, we first need to dig into the revelations from the Skyhook-Google lawsuit. In this lawsuit details about how Google controls the platform are being revealed (read here):

  1. Google requires its approval for any device that includes Google’s applications
  2. The carriers require all Android apps to have Google’s applications.

This double-edged sword makes it impossible for a third-party to take Android, put it on a device and sell it through a carrier without Google’s approval. And that’s exactly what the Skyhook lawsuit — a third-party provider of location-based services — is all about. In short, Google is keeping Skyhook off Android devices by making Google’s location-based services one of the required apps.

And this is where Amazon and its tablet plans come in. Amazon, unlike almost every other company on the planet, has the technology, marketing and distribution muscle to thumb their nose at Google. Let’s refer back to how Google maintains control:

  1. Controlling apps: Amazon could develop their own or license third-party apps. Probably the most important app is the App Store, which gives Amazon access to all kinds of third-party applications and, of course, Amazon has their own store.
  2. Carriers: Amazon doesn’t need the carriers to sell their devices. In fact, Amazon has done pretty well without carriers when it comes to the Kindle.
With both of those out of the way, we could end up with a three (or four if we also consider Barnes and Noble and their ability to compete as well) platform war, all within Android. While the Amazon Android device and Barnes and Noble Android device wouldn’t necessarily be labeled “Android”, they would still be devices that would run Android software, and thus make Google compete with itself.