Amazon’s smartphone has been in the works for quite some time, but very little information has appeared so far other than a string of rumors and reported acquisitions of Windows Phone executives. Now, on the eve of the latest iPhone, Jessica Lessin reports that the Amazon phone might be free. There is no word yet on what Amazon would require from consumers in order to make their free phone a reality, but Lessin suggests the online retailer might require Amazon smartphone owners to subscribe to Amazon Prime. Lessin’s source also stated that “Amazon wants the device to be free whether or not people sign up for a new wireless plan at the same time.” Amazon might be in talks with wireless carriers that would have an interest in offering the phone, although Amazon will likely make the device available on its website. This is still completely up in the air, but it could be a huge boost for the “Kindle Phone” if Amazon can pull it off.
The likelihood that Amazon will launch a smartphone — or a “phablet,” as the case may be — at some point in the next six to nine months seems to grow more likely each day. Bloomberg reported last week that the company is testing a smartphone with manufacturing partner Foxconn, and The Wall Street Journal would later add that the device will likely feature a display measuring between 4 and 5 inches when it launches later this year or early in 2013. Now, Richard Williams, former director of business development with Microsoft’s Windows Phone unit, has left Microsoft to join Amazon as director of the Amazon Appstore. Williams is the second Microsoft executive to leave the company’s Windows Phone division and join Amazon, following Brandon Watson, who made the switch earlier this year. Amazon’s first smartphone offering is expected to be a low-cost device that takes aim directly at Android vendors including HTC, LG and Sony. More →
Amazon is currently testing a smartphone with a display between 4 and 5 inches, a new report claims. Rumors swirled last week suggesting that Amazon is working on an own-brand smartphone, though details were limited. The Wall Street Journal chimed in on Wednesday morning, citing anonymous sources within Amazon’s supply chain in claiming that Amazon is indeed testing a smartphone with partners. The report notes that if Amazon moves forward with the device, mass production could start later this year or early next year. ABI Research defines a “phablet” as a smartphone with a display that measures between 4.6 inches and 5.5 inches diagonally, and Amazon’s handset could very well fall into the emerging category. Amazon’s “Kindle phone” is seen as a likely competitor to HTC, LG and Sony rather than the iPhone, and it could run a highly customized version of Android similar to the operating system on the Kindle Fire. More →
Much of the buzz around the speculative Amazon phone positions it as a rival to iPhone… which makes no sense. The Kindle Fire did not slow down the iPad 2 one iota, but its aggressive pricing damaged the sales prospects of struggling Android tablets. Amazon specced and priced the Kindle Fire specifically to avoid competition with Apple, not to engage in direct battle. More →
Rumors that Amazon is working on an own-brand smartphone to compete with Apple’s iPhone and numerous devices based on Google’s Android platform were resurrected late Thursday. Citing multiple anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported that the Seattle, Washington-based retail giant has plans to extend its hardware business with an Amazon-brand smartphone that is currently in development with manufacturing partner Foxconn International. Foxconn, the well-known gadget assembly giant, also worked with Amazon on its popular Kindle Fire tablet. Like the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s smartphone would likely be based on a heavily customized version of Google’s Android operating system. Unlike the company’s tablet, however, Amazon may employ a drastically different sales strategy that relies on adding value rather than undercutting rivals on price. More →