So, everyone is making their own mobile devices these days. At least, that’s how it seems. Connecting a hand held device to the web and enabling it with Wi-Fi seems to be enough reason to make one’s own mobile device and sell it for an exorbitant price. Yet the ability to use these mobile devices to run various platforms could entice developers, build out a growing marketplace, and become the new way of doing business. Companies such as Amazon are looking to move in on Apple’s turf in order to get a piece of this pie.
Apple’s iPhone still dominates on the mobile app scene. It’s cell phone has won the hearts of millions around the world, with the iTunes App Store attracting countless developers, publishers and buyers to its mobile marketplace. The growth f an entire industry is looking to mobile as its future, and Apple is starting to see more and more competition from others seeking a comparable platform approach to the mobile app forum.
Amazon, for example, has the Kindle. It was launched as a mobile book reader, and has seen some good numbers in the couple of years it’s been out on the market. As a mobile device that is able to connect to the web, however, it has much more potential beyond that of an e-book reader. According to BusinessWeek, Amazon is looking to expand by launching a platform where developers can create apps to run on the Kindle.
It makes sense for Amazon to move in this direction, especially as Apple continues to launch mobile devices that support its growing selection of apps. Enabling developers to create apps for an open platform supported by Kindle could mean additional revenue streams for the online retailer. The best part, is that Amazon gets to maintain its position is a relatively intangible retail service, moving deeper into the mobile app industry and being able to provide access to more virtual products.
Industry-wide, Amazon’s move will also spur further growth in the mobile app space. Google has already begun to impede on Apple’s territory with its Android platform, which is run on multiple devices and is more open than Apple’s own platform. Amazon could learn from the existing battle between Google and Apple in this regard, as the two platform extremes demonstrated by Google and Apple represent two sides of the regulation spectrum.
The concern is that Apple is too strict with its review process, without having a transparent system for developers to navigate. Google, on the other hand, could let malware creep into its Android Marketplace, as it’s more lax with its approval process. Reaching a middle ground could be a good way for Amazon to launch an app store for Kindle, encouraging the developers right off the bat.
Additionally, the ensuing war against Apple’s app domination is being taken up by more than just Google. Several mobile devices from several companies (i.e. GPS navigation service Garmin), will be looking to make some extra money through mobile apps and the ownership of a platform that runs on their self-distributed devices. While this breaks up the industry a great deal, it also gives developers and publishers more options for distributing content.
Against Apple in particular, apps running on Amazon’s Kindle could be for music or television content, which could cost less than what we find on Apple. Amazon already made a similar move when releasing its own mp3 download service, though this didn’t seem to make much of a dent in Apple’s jurisdiction. Specifically towards the price wars, consumers are less likely to see extreme differences amongst different devices this time around, as it’s clear that industry-wide changes are capable of being made.
Whether or not this oncoming variety of devices and content distribution will remain consumer-centric remains to be seen. With so many of the big players being involved, the standards established around the mobile app industry could end up evening out in favor of companies like Apple, Google and Amazon. I think it’s important to keep the consumers in mind when developing competing platforms and methods of mobile app distribution, so hopefully we’ll see some efforts towards this direction as well.