I just read GigaOm’s exclusive story about Amazon buying a mapping company. This is interesting because Amazon hasn’t done anything to actually develop or buy an OS. They’re just taking Android and doing what they please with it.
The problem with this, of course, is that Amazon can’t get access to Google apps. The OS is open source. But the apps require a licensing deal with Google. So if you go the Amazon route, then you need to develop your own apps.
The strategy makes sense unless you believe Google eventually pulls the plug on the open-source nature of Android. But so far, Google has publicly released the source code for Android consistently except for a temporary holdback on Honeycomb to ensure a quality user experience (or so they said). Source code for ice cream sandwich is out, and Jelly Bean code will drop as soon as the OS is released.
So, why not just leverage off Google’s work but do your own core apps, cloud infrastructure, media deals and everything else? Amazon gets to leach off Google for nothing. The only real risk in the strategy is that Google stops open sourcing. That seems unlikely.
It seems pretty clear to me that Amazon doesn’t care about owning the OS but they are working really hard to build a better, more compelling, user experience. Maps are a part of this, obviously. And I’d now propose that it is even more likely that Amazon releases a smartphone at some point.
What are your thoughts?