Amazon, smartphones and the quest for a real No. 3 mobile platform

Amazon could enter the smartphone market and do well. Buyers are dying for a No. 3 mobile platform and the usual suspects just aren't up to challenging Android and Apple's iOS.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Amazon is reportedly planning to launch a smartphone to compete with the Android army as well as Apple's iPhone. And why not? There has to be a No. 3 mobile platform and Amazon has the moxie to make it happen.

Bloomberg is reporting Amazon is prepping a smartphone and there are many observers receptive to the idea. The reality of the wireless industry is that there's a duopoly---Android phones and Apple's iOS. Together, those two platforms own the wireless device market. Within that duopoly there are two primary hardware players---Samsung and Apple. The rest of the pack arguably road kill over time. Just look at HTC's dismal results as Samsung surges


Carriers see this wireless structure developing and say: "We need a No. 3 platform." Verizon, AT&T and others are rooting for Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and Research in Motion to eventually deliver on its BlackBerry 10 promises. Wireless buyers would like a No. 3 choice too, but so far seem perfectly content with Android and iOS.

The upshot of all this is that a No. 3 platform won't emerge merely based on charity. In fact, the No. 3 wireless platform is likely to come from a player not even in the market today.

That new entrant could easily be Amazon. Here's what Amazon brings to the table:

  • A content, music and video ecosystem.
  • A model that could support an e-commerce or ad subsidized device.
  • A penchant for disruption.
  • Distribution.
  • And a boatload of credit card and customer data already on file.

Reports of Amazon building a phone are quite believable. These reports made sense months ago and seem like a lock today. The other obvious mobile platform contender would be Facebook, which has the moving parts to be a wireless player.

Bottom line: The wireless platform race today is going to see the contenders shift. Microsoft and Research in Motion have a short and closing window to cement positions as a No. 3 platform. If these challengers remain mired in single digit market share, Amazon, Facebook or someone else may just step in.

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