Amazon is going mobile, threatening the very core of Apple’s business

By Victor Basta

We believe that Amazon has serious aspirations to be a major mobile device company, to fuel its retail and book sales, and find new ways of engaging with its huge base of active credit-card enabled purchasers.

While Apple is clinging onto its hardware heritage, Amazon comes at the market from e-tail origins and has no such shackles. They are effectively on a trajectory to build ‘the next Apple’ but from a different direction.

We expect to see Amazon accelerate its efforts in mobile devices and there is already plenty of evidence that this is where it is heading. Amazon has bought a range of companies that each provide critical parts of the mobile puzzle.

In the past few years Amazon has acquired SnapTell, an image matching startup; IVONA Software, a text to speech service; Yap, a voice to text startup; Touchco, a specialist in touch screen technology; and Evi, a Siri-style mobile app that turns phones into mobile assistants.

Amazon already has partnerships with mobile providers via its Whispernet service, a 3G wireless plan provided by the company, free of charge.

Even Inspector Clouseau would not have difficulty working out that Amazon is a business with a deep interest in being a serious mobile player.

Amazon is already comfortable with the idea of offering its customers high-quality low-cost devices and has volunteered that it sells Kindles at a loss. The prize for Amazon is in commercialising its content and it is way ahead of Apple in this.

About the author

Victor Basta is managing director of Magister Advisors.

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