Amazon unveiled the Kindle Fire yesterday to great excitement: They have the content chain foundation to make it an end-to-end device in a manner similar to how Apple succeeded on their iTunes franchise. Better still, they’ve made it ridiculously inexpensive for what is a fairly decent bit of gear.
And it runs Android.
“But the Android part doesn’t really matter” so many pundits are busy stating, trying to convince each other that this device falls in the “other” category.
Utter nonsense. The Android part is critical.
Instantly the device has countless available applications. Those apps are built on a matured, evolved, well understood coding platform.
They went the curation route, hooking it into the Amazon App Store (not sure about side-loading), however that is an almost irrelevant bit of fluff, as anyone building apps for Gingerbread or lower is now heavily motivated to go through the trivial process to get their app in that catalog.
No special coding necessary. If you’ve built an app for Android, including copious use of the NDK, submit it to Amazon’s App Store and voila, you’re rolling on the Fire, and can benefit from its success.
I think Amazon’s “forking” is a tad overstated. Given that they have the entire runtime platform to support the very, very broad functionality of third-party applications, it seems more likely that they essentially replaced the shell while hooking in some media programs. If it’s true that they’re running 2.3.5, as rumor has it — and the version really matters because with the version come the many improvements that have happened in the code chain — then such a superficial variance is proven as it would be unlikely they could merge from the trunk so quickly otherwise.