If Amazon running a pre-Android 2.2 variant can get the basic UI to be more responsive than the latest “real” Android releases, the Anything-but-Apple crowd will care even less about new Android releases and focus solely on Amazon releases.
Or perhaps the Anything-but-Apple crowd gets so confused by the Android forks and fragments that they return in droves to their original north star, Windows?
How weird would that be if Bezos has given Ballmer the opening he needed to get back in the game, by Amazon torpedoing Android-Google?
To be fair, it’s not just Amazon. It’s also Baidu Yi, OMS, the Nook, Tapas, OPhone, LePhone, GridO and Bada.
A good summary on why variants are problematic for the viability of Google’s Android.
The concern among some in the Android community is that Amazon?s tablets, if they prove popular, could ?fork? the Android market if Amazon?s tablets can?t (or won?t) run applications written for Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich tablets. It?s not clear whether Amazon cares, as it already has its own application store, payment-processing system, and e-bookstore to sustain its own little tablet ecosystem.
Amazon could be both a blessing and a curse for Android tablet hopes. A successful Amazon tablet could finally get application developers interested in supporting Android tablets alongside the iPad, the way they current value Android smartphone apps in addition to iPhone apps. But an Amazon tablet that struck out on its own path could prevent proper Android tablets from receiving the support they need to really challenge Apple.
This switch to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), though very necessary, is going to further split the Android app scene. It’s very likely that few of the devices currently sold will be upgradeable to ICS. (btw, the subsequent Android version will be Jelly Bean)
If all the rumors come true, the Amazon tablet and Android 4.0 phones & tablets will arrive sometime this November. Developers will need to support both Android versions 2.1A (for Amazon) and 4.0.
Meanwhile, Apple is about to unleash iOS 5 along with iPhone 5. iPad 2 and iPhone 4 will also immediately get iOS 5. In the next 3 months there will be well over 100 million devices running iOS 5, maybe closer to 200 million if you count the 3GS’s limited access to iOS 5 features.
I don’t claim to understand how developers make their decisions on which platforms to support, but here’s the markets as I see them for the last quarter of this year:
? Android 2.1A ~5 million devices max
? Android 4.0: 10-20 million devices? (wild guess)
? iOS 5: 100-150 million devices
To top it off, the Android community of users don’t like to pay for apps, while iOS users spend freely.
Barclays Group analyst Ben Reitzes recently met with Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer. Here’s a short excerpt from Reitzes’ report:
?While the pricing at $199 looks disruptive for what seems to be the iPad?s most important rising challenge, the Amazon Fire ? it is important to note that it could fuel further fragmentation in the tablet market,? Reitzes wrote. ?While compatible with Android, the Apps work with Amazon products. The more fragmentation, the better, says Apple, since that could drive more consumers to the stable Apple platform. We believe that Apple will get more aggressive on price with the iPad eventually but not compromise the product quality and experience.?
The Kindle Fire represents a serious forking in the Android ecosystem. Content (apps, video, e-magazines, etc.) purchased for the Fire will not easily be transferable to other Android devices. This is good for Amazon, but not for the overall Android ecosystem.
The Fire (and Nook to some extent) is likely to garner the majority of sales in the sub-$300 tablet market. The iPad will continue to rule the high-end market, basically anything higher than $350-400. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s market share here was similar to their 90% share of $1,000+ computer sales.
Apple is happy with these Fire & Nook forking/fragmentations because they do nothing but wreak havoc on the Android ecosystem. Developers now need to decide whether to support Android 4.0/ICS or the Fire UI. In fact, Amazon will need to decide this for the rumored 8.9” tablet. Fragmentation within Amazon?
So Amazon rules the low-end market and walks away with zero profit, while Apple keeps the high-end and banks most of the profit in the tablet market. In the process of disrupting the low-end market, Amazon is diverting developer interest for the higher priced Android tablets.