A new survey from Appcelerator indicates that app developers are excited about the potential with Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet. The Android-ish tablet creates some issues as well, but it more than makes up for it with access to an audience of mobile device users that are accustomed to spending money.
It's a good time to be an app developer. It seems like just about every mobile and desktop operating system has an app ecosystem, and users of all ages are anxious to find apps that fit virtually every conceivable need. The problem, though, is getting those users to actually pay for the apps so the developer can make a living.
Android has been a tremendous success in terms of capturing market share--at least for smartphones. The number of Android tablets continues to grow, and it seems inevitable by virtue of sheer diversity and volume that Android will eventually surpass iOS in that arena as well.
When it comes to apps it makes sense that developers would want to focus on the largest market, but it isn't quite that simple. Developers want to focus on the market that is the most profitable, and Android users in general seem more reluctant to spend money on apps than users of other platforms. The Kindle Fire can change all of that.
Why? Well, the Kindle Fire is an Amazon product first, and an Android tablet second. Amazon has a loyal customer base that is conditioned to shop and spend money. They are comfortable with the Amazon brand, and willing to tap and click their way to purchasing products and content from the online retail juggernaut. Now, developers can capitalize on the ability to create Android apps for an Amazon audience that likes to shop.
I spoke with Scott Schwartzhoff , Appcelerator VP of Marketing. He pointed out that fragmentation is a reality of mobile app development--especially for the diverse ecosystem of Android hardware and software. Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, which is built on a custom fork of the Android OS will splinter things even farther.
Based on pre-sales and predicted holiday demand, though, the Kindle Fire seems to be the first Android tablet to reach some level of mainstream success. The Kindle Fire may lack a camera, GPS location, and other more advanced capabilities of some other Android devices, but if it is as successful as it seems it will be, developers will want to focus on apps targeting the Kindle Fire first.
Schwarzhoff explained that Android developers will want to target the market as a whole, but that they can't afford not to aim for the lowest common denominator, and widest possible audience first. That means developing an app that works with what the Kindle Fire has to offer, then building from there to add more advanced features and capabilities for other Android devices as time and budgets allow.
The problem that may face developers and consumers in the future is which Android to follow. With a successful Kindle Fire tablet, the Amazon fork of the Android OS will be able to exert significant influence, and it could result in an identity crisis and battle for the future of Android between Google and Amazon.