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Today in Tech: Amazon Stole the Android Market From Google, Samsung Bests Apple in Smartphone Sales


Samsung is becoming a credible threat to Cupertino, Amazon is growing again, and some politicians want to make it easier to spy on you on the Web.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Aside from the ongoing lawsuit between Google (GOOG) and Oracle (ORCL) over Android's use of Java APIs sans-license that might end with serious implications for the tech industry, Android is falling even further out of Google's control. Amazon (AMZN) now controls more than half of all Android tablets, according to comScore. Amazon's Kindle Fire is by far the most successful of the underwhelming Android tablets with over 54% of market share. The Fire is a distant second to Apple's (AAPL) iPad now.

This isn't good news for Google, since Amazon forked (a tech term for split) the operating system and the market. Kindle Fire users can't access all of the apps at the Google Play store (so no, there is no financial cut for Google on apps and media sales). The success of the mobile platform really depends on its ability to attract developers, developers, and more developers (cue an exuberant, sweat-drenched Steve Ballmer) with a viable way to get paid. The fragmentation of app distribution markets really turns off developers. As Instagram's story shows, Android apps are almost always an afterthought for developers, and you can get pretty far without it.

Amazon, meanwhile, is focusing most of its efforts on taking over the universe. Shares are up 15.29% today after the online retailer smashed through analyst expectations with its first quarter earnings. Income actually fell from a year earlier, but CEO Jeff Bezos is still pouring money into investment and growing revenue. Sales are up 34% at Amazon. One of the top sellers is the Kindle Fire, which is basically a delivery mechanism for Amazon's (not Google's or Apple's) paid content. In 2011 alone, Amazon spent $4.6 billion updating and building warehouses and distribution centers. It's also spending big on marketing and giving customers free shipping options and customer service. Margins are going to be low for awhile, but Bezos is hoping for his strategy to pay off as Amazon shores up its market dominance.

Samsung's (SSNLF) Galaxy tablets might not be as popular as the Fire, but cell phone sales catapulted the South Korean electronics company to a record profit in the last quarter. In the past quarter, Samsung shipped 93.5 million phones, officially knocking Nokia (NOK) out of its top spot as the world's biggest handset maker -- just a bit of salt to rub into the wound that S&P inflicted today when it downgraded Nokia's credit to junk just three days after Fitch did the same. Samsung also beat Apple in smartphone shipments, selling 44.5 million smartphones compared to Apple's 35.1 million. Next week, Samsung will introduce its next Galaxy smartphone in London.

Growth in mobile gaming helped Zynga (ZNGA) beat earnings estimates as well. Customers that paid for services like FarmVille also rose by 21%.

House Republicans passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA for short) -- which encourages private companies to share data on cyber security -- despite President Obama's promise to veto the bill. Opponents of the bill, which include some major tech companies, say that the bill is too vague and would let too much personal data flow into the government's hands. The White House goes further and says that in addition to privacy and civil liberties concerns, the current form of the bill doesn't go far enough to safeguard US infrastructure and intellectual property from cyber attacks.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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