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Amazon could have released an awesome smartphone… but then AT&T got involved

Published Sep 11th, 2014 8:30AM EDT

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Amazon’s Fire Phone is hands down the biggest bomb of 2014 and it turns out we have AT&T to thank for it. The Information reports that Amazon and HTC started collaborating on a budget smartphone last fall but that AT&T stepped in to kill the device by saying it wouldn’t support Amazon’s higher-end Fire Phone if it didn’t get an exclusive on the budget phone as well.

RELATED:Will Amazon’s Fire Phone flop finally kill flagship carrier exclusives?

A budget Amazon phone manufactured by HTC sounds like it could have been a promising device — HTC makes quality hardware even for its non-premium phones and a dirt-cheap phone is just about the only way that Amazon was going to break into the very crowded American smartphone market. But instead, Amazon wound up designing its own hardware and selling it as an AT&T exclusive at a starting price of $200. Needless to say, this has not gone over well.

“Amazon missed a chance to enter the market for low-cost smartphones; its recently launched high-end phone seems to be selling slowly,” The Information writes. “The beleaguered HTC lost out on what could have been a new revenue stream, and also missed an opportunity to show other partners that it had new momentum.”

If there’s one good thing to come out of this, it’s that the Fire Phone’s epic flameout will finally convince smartphone companies once and for all that they shouldn’t give carriers exclusives on their flagship hardware.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.