Friday, December 29, 2017

Device manufacturers aren't forced to strictly follow net neutrality - Amazon's Fire range of products use a clever, hybrid model

Start with this from Wikipedia: 

"Amazon Fire OS is an Android-based mobile operating system produced by Amazon for its Fire Phone and Kindle Fire range of tablets, Echo and Echo Dot, and other content delivery devices like Fire TV; the tablet versions of the Kindle e-readers are the Fire range. It is forked from Android. Fire OS primarily centers on content consumption, with a customized user interface and heavy ties to content available from Amazon's own storefronts and services." - [link]

It's these "heavy ties" to Amazon's products/services that make Amazon's Fire Tablet and other products sort of hybrid when it comes to following net neutrality. Ostensibly they do follow, but "effectively" they're somewhere in the middle, because even if the device does technically support other storefronts and services, Amazon actively steers/nudges users to its own goods and services.

  1. By just not having any app for some/all of competing storefronts and services, and
  2. By forcing users to have a heavily degraded [perhaps unusable] experience when using these rival storefronts and services from Fire's Web browser,
Amazon effectively provides only its own storefronts and services. It's able to make a legal claim that others's stuff too can be used, but it knows that:
  1. Others' stuff isn't much usable, and
  2. So Fire users practically won't use others' services.
This sort of a hybrid, deniable approach isn't easy to prove because it looks benign on the surface. But just because it's hard to spot and prove doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, or that it doesn't have distorting effects on the market [effects that net neutrality is/was meant to avoid].

No comments:

Post a Comment