Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Continuing On

We looked at Apple and Microsoft yesterday, so let's take a quick look at Amazon today. Here's an e-mail from Lummox JR:
I absolutely love the Fire. I haven't loaded any books onto it yet except my own, where I've found the device is a fantastic way to proofread and highlight editing issues. Having a free app every day keeps me going back to Amazon's store (though annoyingly, they keep trying to sell me Android phones because of it). I think the size is really excellent for my needs and for convenience, and with the purchase of an inexpensive case it travels well. I only have two major gripes: 1) There aren't really any customization options for the "sleep" wallpaper nor for the carousel bookshelf, unless you want to jailbreak it which I do not. 2) Some apps haven't yet made it to the appstore, like Dungeon Raid and Triple Town that you mentioned a few weeks ago; and there are plenty others that are still iOS-only, like Midway's arcade collection (I'm a sucker for Joust).

But here's the bottom line for Apple: I've loved my wife's iPod Touch and her mother's iPad, but could never justify spending the money on them. The Kindle Fire was not only much cheaper, it was available through a site where gift cards are easy to obtain. (By the way, another thing I love about Amazon cards is you can get them through Coinstar. When you use Coinstar to get a gift card, they don't take their usual cut.) My wife also signed up for Prime in December, and I share that with her, so I have access to a ton of streaming content for free--and Amazon upped their offerings just a couple weeks ago. So between the price and the content, I am finally a proud tablet owner. I don't even have a smartphone. This is my first modern mobile device, and I have it because the price-to-value ratio was excellent. The iPad is still an amazing value, but Apple can never boast that kind of pricing because it's inimical to their brand.

Several of you have e-mailed and scoffed at the notion that Amazon could ever threaten Apple in any way.

However, it's important to remember that iPods, iPhones, and iPads exist for one reason only: to sell you shit. They are content delivery devices. That's how Apple makes its staggeringly ridiculous financial targets, because once people buy Apple hardware, they fill it up with content that also profits Apple. Even if it's not an Apple program, Apple takes a toll fee for buying it through iTunes or iWhatever.

That's genius. I'm not being sarcastic, either.

Apple, though, is not really a "have it your way" company. They are the quintessential "have it our way" company.

Now look at Amazon. What is the Fire? A device that exist for the sole purpose of selling you shit.

Q: Who makes it easier to buy things than Amazon?
A: No one.

If anyone can build an app store to rival Apple's, it's Amazon. And if they can, what sort of advantage does Apple have left? It's not that Apple would lose its core audience, but the concentric rings that extend beyond their core audience would be very vulnerable to poaching.

Does Amazon understand all this? Of course they do, because at 20 companies are in a room, including Apple, the smartest guy in the room (so to speak) is Amazon.

That's what Apple has to worry about, even if they don't understand it yet.

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