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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Will Kindle Fire Stay Relevant If Google Cleans Up Android Marketplace?

The strength of the Kindle Fire as a tablet tends to be its close integration into Amazon’s web services.  Everything from video to eBooks is right there at the touch of a button, integrated seamlessly into your browsing and available practically the second you have an interest in it.  In terms of wider functionality, however, it does fall short.  There is minimal support built in for alternative file formats, no official access to competing distributers in many cases, and a closely controlled Android Appstore that keep the situation closely within the company’s control.

This all makes sense from Amazon’s point of view since they are attempting to offer end to end support and persuade customers to stick around entirely inside the provided ecosystem.  In fact that last point about the Appstore, despite being inconvenient in a lot of ways, has been a selling point for the Kindle Fire for a lot of people.  While the selection is not yet on par with Google’s Android Marketplace, it is also much safer and tends to provide a better working environment.  Users might not get the latest patch on a given app until it makes its way through the lengthy screening process, but typically this is only extremely upsetting for highly active developers with rapid release schedules or people who run into issues with a current version who are kept waiting.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is a tradeoff that many are more than willing to make.

Google has recently announced that they have put in place controls on the Android Marketplace that should do a lot to address this situation, however.  Their new service, dubbed “Bouncer”, screens apps for malware automatically prior to their release to customers.  It simulates an android phone, runs the app in a sandbox, and tracks behavior against known examples of malware found up to this point.  While we are only just now learning of this, Google claims that it has been in effect for some time now and is responsible for a 40% decrease in the number of potentially harmful apps being released.

While this is not at all comprehensive, it is a step in the right direction.  Should Google get as proficient at automated screening as they hope to be able to announce in time, it could put a big dent in a majorly favorable aspect of the Kindle Fire.  While the general Android experience is likely to remain fragmented, which will always tend to favor consistent experiences like those offered by Amazon and Apple (Apple is much more thorough on this point of course), safety and security are big concerns when using devices that in many cases serve almost exclusively as ways to purchase media in a convenient manner.

It is unlikely that this is a direct response to the Kindle Fire on the part of Google.  They have plenty going on right now in general and despite Amazon’s managing to snag the top slot in terms of most used “Android” tablet, things are clearly doing well for the company in general.  With Windows 8 right around the corner though, it is increasingly important to bring everything to bear to secure customer loyalty.  The Kindle Fire is a step in that direction that would be too extreme for the vast majority of Android device developers, but some of its strengths may serve well as examples.

Kindle Fire App Store Limitations Show Good Judgement

When people talk about the Kindle Fire’s shortcomings, one of the most common objections is the fact that Amazon has closed their customers into an ecosystem that has no direct connection to the general Android Marketplace.  While this is true and does mean that there are far fewer apps at the disposal of customers, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely a negative thing.

The most obvious positive, as far as I can tell, is Amazon’s inspection practices.  While they aren’t nearly as restrictive as Apple, neither does Amazon just allow anything that happens to be submitted to make its way into the system.  This becomes especially important at times like this when large numbers of inexperienced users are likely to be presented with a kind of device they are completely unfamiliar with.  Buying from the Amazon Appstore you have little to worry about, whereas the Android Marketplace has had instances of Malware uploads increase by nearly 475% since just this part July by some accounts.  Because of how Google has structured their store model, there’s no easy way for them to preemptively remove these apps.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, there is also the added benefit to users of regularly discounted or free apps.  While it is my understanding that there have been issues with this system before, such as developers having been misinformed about the potential for profit when their apps are included in the featured slot, it is nothing but a benefit to the end user.  Chances are good that eventually something you want to use will be featured, or at least something that you didn’t realize would be interesting until it popped up.

Kindle Fire owners also have the added benefit of knowing that their device of choice is likely to enjoy ongoing support.  Unlike the main Android Marketplace in which developers are often practically obligated to cater to whichever build hit shelves last, it is fair to expect that Amazon will be clinging to their highly customized build for quite a while.  This means that not only will the newest apps to hit the store be available to you, but that more developers wishing to enjoy ongoing relevance for their work will be drawn in.  Nobody likes to see something they put significant effort into be rendered incompatible a month later.

It would be ridiculous to say that this was anything but a self-serving move on Amazon’s part.  If they could have made more money by opening up their software to Google’s store, there is no doubt that it would have been the first thing done.  Less infrastructure to develop, if nothing else.  The fact is though that by keeping things in house, so to speak, the only people harmed are over at Google.

If having a pure, untouched Android build is really what you would prefer, Amazon has left it quite simple to root the device and make it so.  As it stands, though, the Kindle Fire will be a great entry level product for exactly the reasons that many existing tablet enthusiasts will find unpleasant.  Unless one is exceptionally wary about being tied into Amazon’s services, few shortcomings will be noticeable in their handling of the Appstore.