Interesting piece from Jean-Louis Gassée, commenting on the various tech events of last week. However, I have to disagree with his take on the Amazon/Google relationship regarding Amazon’s new tablet, the Fire.
Jean-Louis quotes the following excerpt from Michael Mace:
“The problem is that Amazon is using Android as just an OS, not using the Google-branded services and application store that Google layers on top of the OS (link). Although Google touted the openness of Android when it was first launched, the reality is that Google is using it as a Trojan horse to force its services onto hardware. What Amazon did with Android is very threatening to Google, and so you’re not likely to hear a lot of supportive words from them.”
I really don’t see the threat, here, especially not the one coming from Amazon’s Silk browser being used as a cloaking proxy for its users. Yes, Google will not be getting browser hits directly from Fire users, but let’s face it: no matter how successful the Fire will be (and I bet it will be very successful), it will never go very far in terms of browser market share compared to smartphone access or even PC access. As for Amazon, I bet they will keep getting most of their data from non-Fire users connecting to Amazon.com by a very, very wide margin.
As for Android: Google’s mobile OS was designed from the very first day as an open platform that anyone, vendor, carrier or third party, can use in their own product without giving so much as a phone call to Google to ask permission. In a famous tweet from a year ago, Andy Rubin gave his definition of ‘open’:
the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make”
I think it’s nice, and it’s certainly one definition of ‘free’, but hardly the one that really matters. The important aspect of Android’s freedom lies in its license and the fact that every day, it’s being used as the foundation of products that even Google has never heard of, and probably never will until they ship.
Amazon is not the first company to go down that route. Just this past week, Boeing announced that their next generation of in-flight software will be based on Android. I don’t know if Google was involved in this project or not (I’m betting not) but I’m not seeing any outrage from tech pundits about this decision. Why is Amazon’s Fire different?
It’s a non-story.
Very soon, companies announcing that they are choosing Android for their next generation of products and they did not cooperate with Google to do so will be as interesting to read as an article about what operating system your toaster runs on.
The bottom line is that every new product that comes out running on Android solidifies its success in the market, and by extension, Google’s.