Kindle Fire, Google and Patent Dispute


Every analyst is discussing how Amazon’s Kindle Fire going to affect Apple. They are discussing, why it is going to be the first real competition for iPad – how at US$ 199, it is a killer pricing – Why Apple might launch a 7 inch rival – Why 7 inch is not a viable Tablet – Why Kindle Fire is a Game Changer etc.

Bloomberg reported that Amazon’s shares rose by $5.50, while Apple fell by $2.25 and Barnes & Noble (maker of the Nook e-reader) declined 91 cents, or 6.9%, to $12.30.

Here is an interesting result of a user poll conducted in Cult of Mac. The question was “Does Apple have anything to worry about from the new Kindle tablet?”

Because of the readership profile of the site, the poll may be skewed in favor of Apple. Even then the dominant view that Android ecosystem may be impacted more needs to be seriously considered.

Kindle Fire runs on Android, But …

The core OS under the hood is Android 2.3. But, the user experience in entirely different. Also, it has a tighter integration with the Amazon cloud. Amazon S3 will hold a copy of all data in the cloud for free while Amazon EC2 will run a smart application proxy that will cache, pre-fetch, and transcode data on behalf of the Kindle Fire user.

Almost surely, Amazon is going to fork Android and not going to depend on Google for the future upgrades. That makes one more vertically integrated device maker. This time the integration is not limited to hardware and software but also with Amazon’s online store, the cloud infrastructure and the complete retail offering.

Therefore the resulting OS will over a period of time will diverge from Google Android. Though Android is open source and free, Google has been progressively tightening its control Android. The source code for current Honeycomb version of Android has not yet been released.

Analysts feel that the Motorola buy gives Google the opportunity to tightly define and control the experience delivered on OEM licensee phones. Google could use Motorola’s design teams to develop a complete “reference experience” that encompasses industrial design, hardware specs, complete software specs, marketing specs, pricing norms and of course the Google app suite.

However, Google may have to face the prospect of not having much control over the first successful competition to iPad. It may not use many of Google’s services, other than basic search as Fire is designed to use and promote Amazon’s services.

What about the Patent Dispute?

Both, Google and the Android device makers are under attack for patent violation – from Oracle, from Apple, from Microsoft, from Nokia …

In fact, Microsoft probably makes more money from Android devices than from licensing windows mobile OS. HTC, Samsung and many others pay Microsoft somewhere between US$ 5 and US$ 10 in license fee for patent usage and for defensive patent protection.

One of the main reasons for Google to buy Motorola mobility is to get hold of their patent portfolio – the portfolio to be used to protect OEM Android devices makers to guard against patent attack. If Amazon moves away from Google then they cannot expect any assistance in any patent dispute.

So, where does this leave Amazon?

Will Oracle claim damage from Amazon? Will Microsoft want a cut on each Fire sold?

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