My Ears Are On Fire

So… if you haven’t heard, Amazon announced a bunch of new Kindles yesterday. For the most part, I think the pundits have nailed it so a few quick bullet points before I dive into the meat of my post:

  • Awesome prices! $80 for a Kindle, $100 for a Touch version and $200 for the tablet are amazingly low. (Marco Arment points out that the new Kindles (except Fire) are all with Amazon’s ad service in place, though, so if you can’t stand the ads it will really cost $40 more.) I’ve considered a dedicated e-reader for years but may pull the trigger now that all the buttons are gone, the devices look great, and the prices are awesome.
  • RIM is in trouble. The device looks almost identical and supposedly has similar specs. Oh, but the price of the Fire is $300 less. (If Apple is suing Samsung for copying iPads and iPhones, will RIM sue Amazon for mimicking the Playbook?)
  • Chris Espinosa wrote some interesting tidbits on the new Fire browser and how it could be used to gather even more info about you. (We could move middle class salaries forward in this country if we could figure out how to make Google, Amazon, etc., pay for all the data they find valuable and have collected on us for free.)
  • I don’t think this is an “iPad killer.” The media is overwrought with hyperbole and link bait and no headline is link bait like “iPad killer.” Given that, John Gruber and Michael Mace have well-thought-out articles on this topic. Michael’s headline pretty much says it all: iPad and Kindle Fire together could be a buzz-saw in the tablet market, cutting down all competitors in their path.
  • One other thing I want to point out that is particularly appropriate is FAKEGRIMLOCK’s guest post over at Fred Wilson’s blog today. FAKEGRIMLOCK talks about how products/companies with personality win. Seems to be that Amazon, Apple and Google are all kings of personality in the tech world right now. Companies like RIM, Nokia and Microsoft have lost some of theirs.

So… on to my thoughts and these I will focus on developers. I think our world is fracturing into tiny fiefdoms. Sure, today Amazon’s tablet uses either Android 2.2 or 2.3 but in the future what are the odds that it stays perfectly compatible? It will always be something: a unique screen dimension, a feature Amazon needs ahead of Google or one Google doesn’t want at all, a tweak to a “bug” that developers have come to rely on. Something.

And when that happens, it is not write once, run everywhere. It is write once for one platform and then hack in fixes for the others. This is the bane of development.

Is this a problem already on Android? Of course. But I would argue that products like the Kindle Fire (and Barnes and Noble Nook) exacerbate this issue. Look at all the advertising for Kindle Fire. Go ahead, look. There is only one place I have seen that actually mentions Android, and that is the Amazon App Store.

Because of the minimal marketing of the Android brand, Amazon has minimal need to remain completely compatible with the Android core.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means when it comes to Android development, we as developers must focus on one platform at a time instead of writing for an OS. We won’t say we write for Android. We’ll say we write for the Amazon Fire.

3 thoughts on “My Ears Are On Fire

  1. Elia,

    Agree completely with you. Android Fragmentation is already happening and it becomes more crucial for developers to clearly lay out what their development strategy will need to be. Writing for one platform and the devices they support is key. For example, we are not sure if the Kindle Platform will keep up with the Android updates. We had faced this with BlackBerry and WIndows Mobile in the past. It looks like Android nor the platform folks who use Android are addressing this well.

    Great Blog Post


  2. Thanks Raghu! I have heard rumors that ice cream (next Android rev) is supposed to minimize the fragmentation but that doesn’t count companies like Amazon that use the OS without using the name.

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