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Amazon Relents: Kindle Fire Browses Android Market

Just days ago we reported and confirmed that Amazon's Kindle Fire prevented owners from visiting the Android Market in the Silk browser. The 7-inch tablet reportedly contains a hidden utility app called "MarketIntentProxy.apk" which can detect when the end-user is hunting for an app, and will force a re-direct to the Amazon Appstore installed on the device -- literally hijacking the browser.

Now days later, Kindle Fire customers are reporting that they suddenly have access to the Android Market via the Silk browser. Like some kind of Christmas miracle, the recent firmware update not only brought smoother scrolling and the ability to delete icons from the carousel, but gives users permission to browse Google's library of Android apps. It's just too bad you can't actually install them, as you need a registered Android device, and the Kindle Fire isn't on Google's list.

As reported earlier, the way around Amazon's closed system is to just simply head to System/Device and turn on "Allow Installation of Applications." One way to get Android Market apps onto the tablet is to back up installed apps from an existing Android device using AirDroid or something similar. Once the app is saved to the hard drive, email it to the tablet or use apps like WiFi File Explorer that are readily available on Amazon's Appstore (this is how we installed Firefox 9 for Android on the Kindle Fire).

In related censorship news, TechCrunch reports that Amazon has lifted a block on 3rd-party e-reader apps provided by Wattpad, Kobo, Bluefire and others. Reasons for blocking the apps from the Kindle Fire are likely similar to the reasons for initially blocking the Android Market: to create a closed system.

"I’ve just been told by Bluefire that their app had been tested for the KF when it was submitted to Amazon," writes The Digital Reader in November. "Amazon told Bluefire that the app was compatible, so there’s absolutely no reason for it to not be listed. Amazon is hindering their competition from their tablet."

But Wattpad -- whose e-reader app was clearly listed on the desktop version of Amazon's Appstore among others -- reportedly didn't think much of the tablet ban and "engaged in conversations" with the online retailer. This reportedly led to a necessary change in policy for all e-reading app developers. It's believed that, like the Android Market block that magically disappeared, the latest firmware update erased the 3rd-party e-reader blocks as well.

However as of this writing, Wattpad's app seems to be the only ebook reader listed on the Kindle Fire version of Amazon's Appstore. Wattpad’s Amy Martin also confirms this via TechCrunch, saying that the apps were available Wednesday evening, but have since disappeared. A search for Kobo and Bluefire leads to empty results. Is this a firmware glitch, or is Amazon still preventing the sale of 3rd-party ebooks directly from the Kindle Fire?

  • amk-aka-Phantom
    I don't get what's up with this Kindle Fire BS. It's a locked down POS that reminds me of the way Apple deals with their iOS devices and yet everyone is crazy about it... why not get a tablet that actually can support full Android functionality (i.e. Android Market) instead of this thing?!
    Reply
  • nhat11
    amk-aka-phantomI don't get what's up with this Kindle Fire BS. It's a locked down POS that reminds me of the way Apple deals with their iOS devices and yet everyone is crazy about it... why not get a tablet that actually can support full Android functionality (i.e. Android Market) instead of this thing?!
    True there's as cheap alternatives but people are lazy and don't want to research other alternatives. Instead they just complain.
    Reply
  • freggo
    amk-aka-phantomI don't get what's up with this Kindle Fire BS. It's a locked down POS that reminds me of the way Apple deals with their iOS devices and yet everyone is crazy about it... why not get a tablet that actually can support full Android functionality (i.e. Android Market) instead of this thing?!
    Absolutely right.
    As far as I am concerned Amazon can keep this thing.
    I will not have some company tell me what I can and can not browse, install or uninstall.
    Reply
  • del35
    why not get a tablet that actually can support full Android functionality (i.e. Android Market) instead of this thing?!

    The thing is that a tablet with the specs of the Kindle Fire would cost a lot more than the 200 bucks Amazon charges for their tablet. At least Amazon made a smart move by charging the manufacturing price for the tablet. You can root the Kindle Fire --video here:

    http://youtu.be/ksY-Iy2QDR8

    On another note, the people buying the Kindle Fire are quite similar to iCrippled users in that
    they are clueless about technology and think they can't read Kindle books in any android tablet.
    Reply
  • jryan388
    Hey guys, before bringing on the hate, consider the fact that Amazon is losing money on each kindle fire they sell. They are probably hoping that people will buy enough from their appstore to make up the difference. If people buy from the android market, they don't make any money.
    Reply
  • hoppius
    Oh well, you can always root your device. So you pay 200 bucks and get full android functionality. My Kindle fire has the market app installed and works like a charm.
    Reply
  • cybneo
    The KF serves its purpose: a cheap tablet to consume media... that's all it is. Perfect gift for non teckie people. Why would i spend more than $200+ on a tablet for a gift if the user will only use netflix and internet...some older people just want to mash icons and watch movies without a PC/laptop...
    Reply
  • house70
    Well, at least they seem to have a better hindsight than the other closed iOS system...
    Reply
  • del35
    Hey guys, before bringing on the hate, consider the fact that Amazon is losing money on each kindle fire they sell. They are probably hoping that people will buy enough from their appstore to make up the difference.

    They are not making money from selling Kindle Fires directly, but they are making money from selling ebooks and other digital media. I think that jailing users backfires in the long run, and if Amazon desires to remain competitive it should promote open standards. I for one stopped buy mp3 files from them because they wanted to force me a la iCrapple into putting my mp3 files on their cloud. I am not dumb enough for that strategy to work with me. So stopped buying from them. I still buy books, but they are so expensive and there are very few classics in e-format. If publishing houses lowered the prices of e-books to just a few dollars, they would make alot more money. Some publishing houses charge something like 50 dollars for an e-book. Go figure.
    Reply
  • clivene09
    house70Well, at least they seem to have a better hindsight than the other closed iOS system...This
    I am sure Amazon wants their device to be a content provider from their website, which is why they initially locked things out. However, they are probably starting to realize that their device is losing some appeal, and upsetting some of their current Fire users because of the closed ecosystem of the device. One thing I can attest to though, Amazon knows that if you make your customers happy, they will continue to support you. I have had no less than 3 problems with purchases made on Amazon recently, non of which was really their fault, and all three of which Amazon handled directly, and graciously. Already have a Touchpad so I won't be buying a Kindle Fire myself, but Amazon is a company I will continue to do business with because they have always worked hard to do right by me.
    Reply