Google reentered the tablet market with its Nexus 7 range last year but it is Amazon, the US retailer that has a somewhat awkward relationship with the search giant, that is dominating the Android tablet market worldwide with its Kindle Fire range, a new report claims.
Research from mobile app analytics service Localytics which goes live tomorrow shows that the Kindle Fire is by far and away the most owned Android tablet on the planet. The company estimates that the number of Amazon Fire devices in the US alone represents 33 percent of all Android tablets worldwide — while the US itself is the world’s biggest tablet market with a 59 percent market share.
There is a key reason behind that factor, namely the limited availability of the Kindle Fire range itself. Initially available in the US only, Amazon later released its devices in selected European markets but Localytics estimates that 89 percent of Kindle Fires are based in the US. That’s well ahead of the Nexus 7 (US ownership is 8 percent of the worldwide total), Samsung’s Galaxy range (9 percent) and Barnes and Noble’s Nook (10 percent).
Of course, it goes without saying that these are estimates (notably devoid of raw sales or shipments figures) but they present an interesting snapshot of the Android tablet market. Localytics says it has “insights into over 500 million unique devices” which have its analytics and in-app marketing solution installed.
Apple’s iPad has long defined the industry, there’s no doubt in that, but it stands to reason that the broad range of Android partners and devices that they produce will, at some point, eat into Apple’s dominance of the market — as has happened with global smartphone numbers. Likewise, the release of Google’s Nexus 7 is likely to challenge Amazon as its maturity develops, although the Kindle Fire range benefits from more devices, a wider range of price points and more time in the market, for now.
Over time one might expect the range of Android tablets to grow out of the US, and likewise Amazon’s share of the Android tablet eco-system to lessen as devices from Google and others grow their footprint. However, running counter to that, Amazon is focusing its efforts on internationalizing the Kindle. Given that it makes a loss on the sale of devices, it has significant leverage to pressure low-budget device makers with a better quality user experience.
Indeed, it could be hugely disruptive in China when it finally launches there. Amazon’s app store has already gone live in the country, so it seems like it is only a matter of time before the Kindle, Kindle Fire and others arrive.
Enders Analysis analyst Benedict Evans recently looked at what Google stands to gain from Android. While much of the motivation is to help technology reach the hands of new users, Google’s services are baked into the operating system. As it stands, given that Amazon’s own fork of Android cuts out a number of key Google properties — most notable the Google Play app and content store — and its continued dominance is lessening the impact of said Google services in Android.
The takeaway for Android developers is clear, ignore the Kindle at your peril, as Localytics explains:
In the meantime, any Android developer with a focus on tablets should be distributing their apps in the Amazon App Store. The degree to which Amazon has dominated their most serious geographical market should speak to the future potential, and since Google Play is unavailable on the Kindle Fire family, adding Amazon’s App Store as a distribution channel is important.