Retail giant Amazon is rumored to be working on a games console, and it is claimed that this disruptive device will hit its virtual shelves before the end of the year, and most likely by Black Friday.
Amazon is no stranger to bringing hardware market, having successfully launched a range of ebook readers and tablets. Amazon has also been putting tremendous effort into building up its digital empire, which now consists of ebooks, music, video, and Android games and apps.
According to Game Informer, Amazon will "be leveraging the titles already available on its platform," and it will offer owners one productivity or game app for free per day.
The unnamed console will also have its own, dedicated controller.
Other rumors suggest that the console will be powered by Qualcomm MPQ silicon, hardware used in set-top boxes and smart TVs. This is particularly uninteresting given that earlier this year the WSJ and others got wind that Amazon is also interested in the set-top box market.
OK, so another games console. Even if it is powered by Android, it's nothing new. Who cares, right?
Join the dots here and you see just how big – and disruptive – this could be.
A cheap Amazon-branded console, priced around the $99 mark – which could even be free for Prime customers – would be a huge and unwelcome distraction for Microsoft and Sony, who both want consumers focused on their consoles.
And anything that's bad for the Xbox One or PS4 is also potentially bad for AMD, which supplies the chips for both of these consoles. AMD, like Intel, realized that the PC market is imploding and has been working hard to diversify, but nimbler players such as Qualcomm aren't making things easy for them.
Qualcomm is at #29 on the S&P 500 list as ordered by market capitalization, having recently grabbed that spot from Intel. The incumbent players are having a tough time adjusting to consumer shifting their dollars from PCs to smartphones and tablets. Qualcomm is rapidly becoming the Intel of the post-PC era.
Qualcomm is currently focused on energy-efficient architectures, and recently branded octa-core processors as "dumb," but involvement in gaming, especially non-mobile console gaming could force the company to re-evaluate this position.
The Android juggernaut is essentially being driven by a single company – Samsung. And most of that market is driven by smartphone demand. With Amazon having already edged into the tablet market, and now rumored to be planning to enter the games console/set-top box market, it seems inevitable that it will eventually build a smartphone, and if/when that happens, that has the potential to be highly disruptive to Samsung.
Along with selling a lot of books, Amazon also shifts a lot of television sets, and a deal with TV makers to get the console bundled with certain lines, or perhaps even integrated inside the TV, would give Amazon a huge advantage over the competition.
An increase in Android footprint is good for the platform, but it's important to note that the shift here would be to Amazon's vision of Android, which is very different from what Google wants the word to use.
It would also represent a shift in power from the Google Play store to Amazon's own App Store, which gives the store more power to attract developers and even exclusive titles.