By Harry McCracken | Friday, November 11, 2011 at 10:00 am
Yesterday, after writing about Android fragmentation, I ran into a friend at a conference. He began ranting about a particular type of fragmentation: The way wireless carriers muck up Google’s operating system with junkware, promotional stuff, pointless tweaks, and general bloat that makes the operating system less usable. He got pretty worked up about it. I agreed it was a problem.
I wondered why no company has taken up the challenge of building…well, the iPhone of Android phones. Something that’s elegant, approachable, uncluttered, and respectful of the consumer’s intelligence. Any bundled services would need to be beautifully integrated rather than just shoveled onto the phone indiscriminately, as the apps on Android handsets often are.
And then it hit me: Why not Amazon?
Amazon is good at making things simple. Amazon has taste. Amazon has stores for movies, music, books, magazines, and apps, all of which are already hooked up to our credit cards and shipping addresses.
Most important, Amazon has already done a lot of the heavy lifting required to build a phone. It could simply repurpose much of the effort it’s poured into the Kindle Fire tablet, and then add phone-specific features.
As long as I’m daydreaming: Couldn’t Amazon buy wireless service in bulk from someone like Sprint or Verizon, then resell it in a form that’s designed to be as hassle-free as possible? (Wouldn’t it be cool to sign up for a wireless plan with pricing that was utterly free of mysterious charges?)
I’m not saying that a Kindle Fire phone would be an antidote to Android fragmentation. Actually, if it’s like the Kindle Fire tablet, it would be one of the most fragmented Android phones of all, since Amazon would utterly rework the operating system to serve its purposes. But the Kindle Fire, with its simpler interface and deeply-integrated services, is fragmentation with a point, rather than the random, unsatisfying fragmentation that otherwise pervades Android.
I have no reason to believe that Amazon is planning to make a Kindle phone. Then again, I’d be startled if it hadn’t at least pondered the possibility. I’d consider buying one–would you?