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Why Does Amazon Want To Sell Its Own Smartphone, Anyway 60

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pay-to-be-the-product dept.
curtwoodward (2147628) writes "Amazon is well-established as an e-commerce and cloud computing pioneer. So why do its ambitions include a bigger push into consumer electronics, including a long-rumored leap into the very competitive smartphone market? In a word, control — of data, consumer profiles, and royalties on purchases."
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Why Does Amazon Want To Sell Its Own Smartphone, Anyway

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  • It'll be easier for their drones to find me if I have an Amazon phone.
  • I bought a Kindle Paperwhite [amazon.com] not too long ago and while I am happy with the technology and have become a voracious reader for the first time in years, the platform obviously is ultimately meant to allow Amazon to sell you e-books to read on it, sell advertising to third parties, and gather data on what you are reading and how both for itself and for third parties.

    However, while they can probably depend on a majority of their customers to be sheep, they make it surprisingly easy to avoid all that. The Kindle is jailbreakable, so if you get the slightly cheaper version that shows advertising, you can disable that. You are not dependent on Amazon, but can put content from anywhere on it (such as pirate ebook sites). Keeping the Kindle in Airplane mode all the time means it can't communicate over wifi on how you are using the device, and you don't lose anything really if you are getting your ebooks from places other than Amazon, because the built-in web browser is crap for anything anyway.

    So perhaps Amazon is growing into an all-consuming monster of Big Data and advertising, but I hope they continue to make it easy for us nerds to opt out.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @08:15AM (#46877689)

      Amazon understands piracy. Is so damned easy to order books on my Kindle I don't even bother to download them even though it'd save me $8. It's just not worth me getting out of my reading chair and dinking around with it. I can search for the book, click a button, viola. The prices aren't crazy and I can get my books when I want them. If the music and movie industries did something similar I'd probobly start paying them again as well. But when they still think they can manipulate how, when, and where I watch their content... force me to watch inane previews, bribe my TV manufacturer to limit its features... all just to extort the maximum profit out of me, it's just easier to pirate it.

      • by Kardos (1348077) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @08:26AM (#46877783)

        Except that you have no control over whether that book will remain on your Kindle. You just have to have faith that your books won't be revoked for $SomeRandomReason.

        Famous example: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07... [nytimes.com]
        More recent example: http://digitaljournal.com/arti... [digitaljournal.com]

        • by CRCulver (715279)

          While the poster above you presumably does not have control since he gets books from Amazon delivered directly to the Kindle over its 3G or wifi connection, Kindle owners do have control over their content if, as I said, they just keep in the device in airplane mode all the time. When you buy an ebook from Amazon -- or simply get it from a pirate site as is just as easy -- it's a normal, ineffectively DRMed file and you can move it to a plugged-in Kindle in USB mass storage mode. With the wifi connection of

        • I used to worry about that, but, for books, I realized I just don't care. Only novels are acceptable for me to read on a Kindle. Technical materials must be in paper form or PDF. Once I've finished reading a novel, with very few exceptions, I'll never read it again. If I do, I'll find a hard copy. Life is too short for obsessive hoarding.
          • by Kardos (1348077)

            I'd find the book "rental" via Amazon/Kindle would be more palatable if the price were lower - $1 per novel would put it into the "ok, fine, it's just a rental" category (despite being more expensive than a library ..). A cursory look finds kindle versions are 80-90% of the price of a dead tree version. That's not a sufficient discount to surrender control.

        • by quonsar (61695)

          Except that you have no control over whether that book will remain on your Kindle. You just have to have faith that your books won't be revoked for $SomeRandomReason.

          Oh yes I do. I strip the DRM and keep copies on my computer. Easy as pie. I bought 'em, they are MINE.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Except that you have no control over whether that book will remain on your Kindle. You just have to have faith that your books won't be revoked for $SomeRandomReason.

          Why is it that the purveyor of walled gardens is the last to get in on this? Apple's never removed content from people's devices. Sure, they've removed content, but if you have a backup copy (on your PC, say), it remains perfectly usable, even installable on new devices. All content too - music, movies, TV shows, books, apps.

          It seems every OTHE

        • Thats fine, if they do that I'll just pirate it. I'm paying for the convenience of not having to go find the damned book.

        • by trawg (308495)

          This is one of the reasons I have not bought into the Amazon ecosystem.

          GP is right - Amazon have largely solved piracy for the majority of users by simply making it way easier. As an avid reader and someone that has been almost exclusively reading e-books since about 2005, I love the idea of the Amazon ecosystem.

          But I can't bring myself to buy a book that I then don't own. I understand the revoking is, when considered as a percentage of books, tiny - but the point is /it can happen/. I don't want their DRM

      • Amazon understands piracy. Is so damned easy to order books on my Kindle I don't even bother to download them even though it'd save me $8. It's just not worth me getting out of my reading chair and dinking around with it. I can search for the book, click a button, viola. The prices aren't crazy and I can get my books when I want them. If the music and movie industries did something similar I'd probobly start paying them again as well.

        Buying books from Amazon is easy but buying music from Apple is too compl

        • I wouldn't know since I don't own an Apple computer. iTunes doesn't support Linux, and using it via windows nearly drove me insane with rage. My kindle doesn't even require a computer... just wifi. How would I get that music into my car? I'm sure there are answers to all these questions, but if they want my money they need to make it easier to buy the music than simply copying it to a USB stick and carrying it out to my car.

          • You don't need a computer to access the iTunes Store, it can be accessed via an iPod touch, iPhone or iPad. So I'm guessing you're an Android user. But you can also purchase music from Amazon, almost the same way you can buy from the iTunes Store, so what's the problem?
  • by rvw (755107)

    Wait until they sell ponies. Then you become the Amazon [wikipedia.org]!

    No really!!! How long will it take before you become their pony? When will you be the drone? When will they get you to deliver their goods and be happy about it?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Have you seen Amazon's Mechanical Turk?

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @08:09AM (#46877635)

    Didn't people ask the same thing when Apple, a computer company, started selling portable music players? And then again when they started selling phones?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why does a company known for its search engine put out a mobile OS and their own mobile devices? Why doesn't anyone ask that around here?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But we don't dare speak badly of teh Googles!! here.

    Google wants you to see their ads and mine your data. You are the product. Scream it from the rooftops! As much as we hear this endless drone about Facebook and we can see where Amazon can make the same move the truth of the matter is that Google is currently the industry leader in selling all your data to their customers. Even Facebook can't imagine the kind of data mining that Google does and Amazon can't imagine the exposure that Google gives to

  • by Sp4rkyJ0n3z (2550184) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @08:36AM (#46877859)
    Amazon is a giant now, but so was RadioShack back in its prime time. RadioShack is struggling now, because they did not adapt their retail stores to new consumer needs. Adaptation is necessary. What is a business' number one resource? People. This is important, because Amazon is huge and the majority of the population are well aware it exists. How does a well known company get more clients? By predicting their specific needs. Smartphones collect data that can be used to predict these things. Google has this figured out, and make money by referring customers, and not by selling any products. Amazon already has invested in mobile technology via its Kindle series, so a logical step would be to expand to cell phone technology so they can start their data mining.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      By predicting their specific needs.

      Predicting needs is easy: food, water, air, medical and sex.

      All the data collection and analyzing shit is to try to get people to buy wants - shit they don't need.

      Remember, our ecnomy is 70% consumption and aside from true needs, the rest takes marketing to get us to think we need tham.

    • RadioShack is struggling now, because they did not adapt their retail stores to new consumer needs.

      Is it really what happened? Or are they struggling because the makers are now getting their parts from places like eBay and AliExpress? There's only so many parts that a hardware store can physically stock.

  • Given the kinds and amount of data they want to move to end users, either directly via video or audio streaming/downloads or indirectly from their cloud infrastructure, having an "Amazon Device" only seems to be part of the equation.

    With the future of net neutrality seriously in doubt and rent-seekers like Comcast holding their customer base hostage it seems like it would make sense for them to try to get into that market, too.

    Google is approaching this, albeit teasingly and slowly to probably not scare reg

  • Every company and his dog would like to be the gatekeeper for your data. Only the top tier technology companies can take a shot at it: Google, Apple, MS, Amazon.

  • by MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @08:53AM (#46878075) Homepage

    I suspect Amazon sees the smartphone as a portable checkout terminal. Rather than leave it open to any competitors, they want to own the OS and get a peek at what you're looking for. It's also a consumption device, and is the hook to selling movies, books, etc. It may be the case that they really don't want to be in the smartphone business, but fear what a competitor might do.

  • Amazon's business model is actually still the same as any startup--expand or die.
    Going into a new area such as smartphones keeps investors interested.
    If they stopped expanding into new areas and technologies, then shareholders would start expecting them to make a profit and that has yet to happen at Amazon.
    • Re:expand or die (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mlts (1038732) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @10:39AM (#46879759)

      In a previous /. topic, it was stated that shareholders want growth above everything, and that a firm with a market niche that was profitable was considered far less attractive than one that was operating at a net loss, but was expanding into new markets and buying out other companies [1].

      Amazon is playing the market quite smartly. Shareholders want growth, Amazon is giving them what they want. I wouldn't be surprised to see an Amazon MP3 player (although that market is a tired one), if it kept the shareholders thinking the company was "growth-focused".

      [1]: Maybe it is a good thing long-term. Buy companies like IBM or GE that are established and have stocks paying dividends, and hold those until this "growth" fad dies off and the stocks of functioning companies becomes mainstream again.

  • Amazon = Buy 'n Large. I think that answers this and basically any other question about Amazon, ever.

  • I cannot stream Amazon Prime on any of my devices without having to side load Amazon Prime Video. That is 20 mil (in US) devices Amazon is not actively on right now.
  • In several conversations recently among various tech, marketing, and entrepreneurial/business types here in Austin, there has been near universal agreement on the following really interesting points of perception:

    1) Google used to be trusted, but definitely is not trusted anymore. They have blown their trust and probably can never earn it back. A surprising number of people who were comfortable "running their company" on Google until recently are now actively looking for other alternatives, as they are t

    • by dublin (31215)

      BTW, all Amazon would have to do to get me onto their phone platform would be to build a modern WebOS phone (or something that works like it.) We still desperately need a platform that is really web-centric (web apps were first-class under WebOS - all of the "native" apps, including the dialer, were just web apps themselves that happened to be pre-loaded on the phone or tablet.)

      That, and it really ticks me off to have brain damage on the iPhone that was elegantly fixed 20 years ago in PalmOS. (Including

  • Oh I couldn't possibly imagine any reason why amazon would want to break into the smartphone market at all. The Kindle Fire isn't overly successful with their own app store enabled and the google app store stripped out. They don't sell kindles at a loss so they can reap huge profits from their chunk of a digital content sale. No sir.

    Come on.

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