Amazon: A Much Stronger Company Than Apple

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon.com (AMZN) doesn't need to, nor does it directly intend to put the hurt on Roku or ding Apple (AAPL) TV. Any impact the new Fire TV has on Roku, Apple and other intermediary streamers -- it's all collateral damage. Because Amazon doesn't enter the space set to directly compete.

Yet it still directly competes. And quite effectively. If that makes any sense at all ... and it should if you understand the power, the glory, the ministry and the majesty of Amazon.com and Amazon Prime.

If anybody else unveiled Fire TV the world would chide it as a Roku or Apple TV knockoff. They would ignore the enhanced search with voice and gaming component and say Amazon's just entering the space because everybody else is there and they want a piece. Maybe some people are actually saying this. If they are I don't know because I don't pay attention to these people. They know nothing.

Of course, Amazon wants to rival (or worse) Roku and Apple. But that's not the primary reason why Amazon does what it does -- readers, tablets, a streaming box and, maybe someday, streaming radio. These things exist to contribute to the ubiquitousness of Amazon.

Now you might not experience Amazon the way I do or to the extent I do, but chances are the company enters your life in one way or another. And you're probably better off for it. Talk about a halo effect -- partake in one Amazon service and I reckon it won't be long before you dip your toes in another. It happens so naturally and seamlessly it might as well be subconscious.

The beauty of this for Amazon -- and a large part of the reason why I don't feed into the whole "competition" angle the media can't seem to get enough of -- is that Amazon does not live or die by these other areas it wades into.

By comparison -- for as great as Satya Nadella is, Microsoft's (MSFT) fighting for its life. If this diss Ballmer, mobile-first, cloud-first, we're suddenly cross platform strategy doesn't work, Microsoft will end up screwed. That's not the case at Amazon -- or another company (Google (GOOG)) -- that exudes the Amazon way. If the streaming box duds or the tablet flops or streaming radio doesn't happen or doesn't end up working it, it's no sweat off of Jeff Bezos's beautifully bald dome.

He operates from a position of strength and luxury. Amazon has a core business that's hardly in trouble. In fact, it's more vibrant than ever. This enables Amazon to aggressively push into other areas that put it in competition with Apple and others, while it -- more importantly -- nurtures the best ecosystem in retail and consumer tech.

Dig some numbers TheStreet's Renee Ann Butler published Wednesday in response the Amazon Fire TV announcement:

28% of Amazon.com customers own a Kindle Fire, while 21% own a Kindle e-Reader ... 9% of Amazon.com customers own both devices, suggesting how well Amazon has done to drive sales of what amounts to a portal to Amazon.com.
... Amazon Kindle device owners spend approximately $1,233 per year, compared to $790 per year for other customers. They do so because Kindle device owners buy over 50% more frequently than other customers.

If you don't think the strategy's working you're nuts. If you don't buy into the notion of sacrificing near-term financial metrics in the name of seizing massive long-term opportunity they're waiting for you at Bellevue (not the one in Washington) with their oxygen masks.

(The first reader to Tweet me the name of the person who inspired that last line gets a free TheStreet prize pack).

Amazon is in the middle of a long journey toward a good kind of ubiquitousness. It's not pulling a creepy Zuckerberg and prescribing its shady vision of the future on you. Instead, it's doing what truly great companies -- like Apple -- do. And that's taking activities you're going to participate in anyway ... activities that, in many cases, you need to participate in and it's making them easier and a heck of lot more fun. At the moment, Amazon's doing this a heck of a lot better and more convincingly than Tim Cook is at Apple. 

That's not to say Amazon's a corporate angel, but nevertheless ... (prepare yourself for some hideous wordplay) ... it's got the halo effect down every bit as impressively as Apple.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a full-time columnist for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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