The Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7 have a lot in common. They’re both budget tablets, available for as low as $200, they’re both 7-inch tablets, and most importantly, they’re both built around the content services of their respective brands. So which “ecosystem” reigns supreme, Amazon’s or Google’s?
It’s not just about numbers — although that is a big part of it — so we will also be taking into consideration the quality of content, exclusivity, organization, and even various perks from each of the services that customers can enjoy. As a disclaimer, note that not all of the apps available from Amazon and Google are compatible with the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7; nevertheless, the two devices were built around these content services, so it’s worth comparing the two to determine which tablet is best for you.
As far as sheer quantity is concerned, Google Play has the Amazon App Store beat by a country mile. Google Play has over 600,000 apps, whereas the Amazon App Store appears to offer only about 47,000 apps (Amazon has not provided official numbers, but a quick tally of the app section on Amazon.com came to 47,639).
The video selection, including both TV shows and movies, appears to be a little more comparable between the two, with Amazon boasting over 100,000 choices through its Instant Video library, and Google similarly stating that Google Play has “thousands” of movies and TV shows.
However, some of Amazon’s Instant Video content can be streamed for free, whereas Google Play only gives users the option to buy and download. That being said, “free,” comes with an asterisk, as the video streaming option through Amazon is only available to subscribers of Amazon Prime, which costs $79 a year.
Unfortunately, the Amazon App Store has no notable exclusive content when compared to Google Play. And though many major Android apps can be found in both stores — including Skype, Netflix, Twitter, etc. — there are a few big name apps that you can only pick up from Google Play, including Instagram, Hulu Plus (and even that is only compatible with some Android devices, but the Nexus 7 is one of them), and Draw Something. This, of course, begs the question of why a user would choose to use the Amazon App Store when Google Play features the some content and then some.
The answer is because Google has a say over which devices have access to Google Play, so you may not have a choice if your particular Android device is not one of the lucky ones. Google Play has a certain amount of exclusivity; not all devices have access to it, and one of the devices on the verboten list is, of course, the Kindle Fire. The Amazon App Store, on the other hand, is open to all. and can be downloaded to any and all Android devices.
So while Google Play’s lack of universality could hurt the storefront in some ways, it’s a solid argument for why users should buy the Nexus 7 over the Kindle Fire: the former has access to the Google Play selection and its users can download the Amazon App Store should they feel so compelled, giving them the best of both worlds, whereas the Kindle Fire only has access to the Amazon App Store.
The Kindle Fire may have access to the retailer’s Instant Video selection — while the Nexus 7 does not — but that’s mostly a wash, given that most of what can be found there is also available on Netflix (an app that can be downloaded on either Android device). Also, Amazon’s video selection was recently made accessible to iOS users, which means that it may just be a matter of time before it’s brought to all Android devices and Nexus 7 users will have access to it, as well.
While it’s true that Google uses separate apps like Play Movies, Play Music, Play Books, etc., to let users access their media, there’s something to be said for the fact that when it comes to shopping, all of its content is in one place. Everything that you can buy through Google (apps, music, magazines, movies/TV, and books) is all accessible through the one Google Play store.
Amazon, in contrast, is a bit more fragmented with the way that it organizes its purchasable media. The Amazon App Store is for exactly that: just apps. If you want to purchase books or magazines, those are handled through its Kindle Store, while music, movies, and TV shows are available through the Instant Video store.
Both services give users the ability to purchase and sync their content over multiple devices, so you can, for example, buy an app on your desktop via the Amazon App Store or Google Play and instantly access it on your tablet or any other devices that are connected to the same service. In fact, there are never any wires required for syncing, so if you buy one piece of content from either outlet using any device (computer, phone, tablet), it will show up everywhere else, too.
It’s not a huge inconvenience, but it’s definitely preferable to have all purchasable in one place. Google’s “ecosystem” wins out here because it is handled through the one-stop shop that is Google Play, whereas Amazon’s is broken up into multiple outlets.
Be sure to continue on to Part 2 of this multi-page comparison.
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