Opinion: Why Amazon needs the Instant Video app on Google Play

Opinion time! Amazon has a lot of apps for mobile devices, and historically they have been putting their most important apps in as many platforms as possible. Except for the Instant Video app. That app is available for the Kindle Fire devices and for iPads and Roku boxes and BluRay players and such, but there’s still no official launch for the Android proper store, Google Play. Why is that?

Some speculated that this was done to help drive customers to Amazon’s own Kindle Fire tablets and also the Amazon Android app store. With Google Play having an advantage in apps, Instant Video was one of the few things Google Play did not have. So, so far, the tug of war was won by the hardware and app-store people.

However, Amazon is in a situation where they have to offer Instant Video on Google Play. The longer they wait, the more opportunities they give other companies to develop and establish their presence as digital content providers. Google may have not had had the skills and knowhow and the gentle hand to deal with normal consumers when they launched the digital content stores on Google Play, but they have made a lot of improvements now. It is no longer considered laughable to buy or rent movies from Google Play. Chromebooks and Chromecast and Google TV and Android TV helped leverage the content.

And then there’s the existing competitors, from subscription-style services like Netflix and Hulu and Crackle, to content selling services like Vudu and Flixster and upstart (but well connected) M-Go and the Ultraviolet alliance, to TV networks and studios advancing their own apps, to new upstarts like Yahoo Screen and Sony and Xbox (well, they were a contender) and AOL, and YouTube and so forth.

So Amazon is getting very close to the point where the damage done by allowing other companies to become permanently associated as the goto video services on Android devices is probably bigger than the losses of the Kindle Fire and the Amazon Android app-store having the exclusivity of the Instant Video app among Android users. Amazon is content and the risk of other companies eating up into their mind-share of digital video content is just too big!