Aggravation: As of last week The Wall Street Journal application that resides on my ‘Original’ Amazon Kindle Fire is no longer is supported by Amazon. I learned of this when last week I could no longer download the paper. No warning, no communication from Amazon at all. At first I thought it was my individual device but when I called (yes I really called the 800 number) I was informed of the news. Since I called the Wall Street Journal I got their point of view that Amazon changes things rather consistently without any advance notice.
While I am far from being a member of the Apple cult (and a cult it is), I appreciate the good things (design elegance and usability) that come with Apple devices and platforms. Those things are the cornerstones of the Apple brand. But hey, what about Amazon’s cornerstones? People tend to trust Amazon and have confidence in the platform, but I’ve never heard anyone mention anything regarding the elegance of an Amazon device.
I want to think that Apple would never handle an update the way that Amazon did. As if Apple would ever allow a situation to occur like ‘Too bad Original iPad owner but we don’t support that anymore’’. At least that’s my perception.
So I began to think exactly where do Amazon.com and Apple directly compete? I decided to make a little scorecard.
The first thing that comes to mind is music. iTunes vs. Amazon’s new Prime Music service. There’s a clear winner here even though Prime Music is relatively new and unknown.
OK Apple 1 – Amazon 0
How about books? Again, there’s a clear winner but the other way around. Amazon’s roots, past if not present, are books. Just ask the folks and authors at Hachette. There actually is an iBooks application but it is not built as an e-commerce platform in any traditional sense.
Apple 1 – Amazon 1
What about mobile phones? Until very recently this was literally a no contest. With the introduction of the Kindle phone it’s all so different now, isn’t it? NOT. Still no contest
Apple 2 – Amazon 1
How about tablets? The Kindle Fire from Amazon vs. the iPad, iPad Mini or any tablet device from Apple. Again no contest and I can tell you this from first hand experience.
Apple 3 – Amazon 1
And what about distribution of goods? Starting with books, Amazon has built an impressive distribution platform that can deliver goods to Americans in less than 48 hours (this is without delivery drones). Apple is not at all interested (at least not at the moment) in distribution.
Apple 3 – Amazon 2
I’m not even going to get into which company has made money over the years and which one has yet to make money. Apple is the most valuable company on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2012 Amazon did almost $18 billion in sales. Amazon has always been about long-term value, which is why it has remained a popular stock on the Street.
Now my scorecard is totally biased with my own opinion. However what did emerge is that Apple and Amazon (for the most part) do not really compete – at least not to any substantial degree. Yet they are not partners to any degree either. In fact with Amazon’s handling of the Hachette situation there’s talk of Amazon already having or on the way to having an industry monopoly when it comes to books. Not too long ago Apple was being called out for something similar when it came to music but not so much recently.
Both Apple and Amazon seem to have some unwritten gentlemen’s agreement not to get into each other’s stuff (the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire phone non-withstanding). So are Apple and Amazon rivals? Partners? Neither? Something else?