It appears that the long-rumored Amazon smartphone will become a reality at some point in 2014. We have heard talk and speculation about it since as early as 2011, but now it seems that HTC has been tapped to help Amazon put together a real contender to stand up to Apple and Google.
People familiar with the project recently mentioned to FT that at least one device is in an advanced stage of development and that if things don’t change in the meantime there is every reason to expect a launch sometime next year. Amazon, of course, declines to confirm these rumors.
If Amazon were to release a device using the same sales philosophy as it employs with the existing Kindle line – sell near cost and make your profits through use – then there is little doubt that adoption would be strong.
This would put HTC in a bit of a bind with Google, who has proven to be proficient at protecting their brand over the past couple years. Given the release of HTC’s less than successful Facebook Phone, though, they probably have the details about that already under consideration.
Watch for more news toward the end of this year. Amazon might not be willing to confirm, but a Kindle smartphone is going to have leaks along the production line and it should be particularly interesting to see what these reveal along the way.
The big thing to talk about right now, as far as Amazon and the Kindle goes, is the upcoming Kindle tablet. While we have yet to receive official word from Amazon about things like release dates, technical specifications, or pretty much anything else, the more recently leaked information indicates the potential for more than just the Kindle tablet or even a series of Kindle tablets. We could be looking at a version of the same idea scaled down to a four inch screen to compete directly with the iPhone and/or iPod Touch. Did anybody else see this as a strong possibility in light of the opening of Amazon’s cloud-based music storage service?
Whether one or both comes to be is up in the air yet. It makes a lot of sense to assume that something along these lines is coming, though. Amazon already has a marketplace filled with apps that are made for use on an Android smartphone. Of course many of them will scale up just fine to a larger screen for the Kindle Tablet, but they’ll be best represented on the 4″ screen they were made for. On top of this, the ability to offer a particularly cheap device as part of the new product line will help to ensure a positive reception.
The question of whether or not it will be a real cell phone or simply something to run apps on is still rather hard to speculate on. Amazon has some existing connections to the world of cellular providers, but mainly due to the need entailed by the Kindle 3G. To launch themselves into the cell phone market at the same time as releasing their first tablet PC would seem like a great way to complicate things more than they need to be. This doesn’t necessarily rule it out, of course, since consumers would definitely welcome an affordable, functional iPhone alternative at this point, especially if it uses an LCD alternative that allows for extended battery life as some have considered likely for the entire Kindle Tablet line. Even if there is no specific function as a phone, per se, I can’t imagine that Amazon would miss the opportunity to make them into functional communication devices by allowing things like Google Voice or Skype to run through them. Since it is pretty much inevitable that the Kindle Tablets will have WiFi, as does everything these days, there will always be plenty of options.
So far there is no solid information on the potential release date for anything in this line of devices besides that it is likely to be in the second half of 2011. Given the scheduled announcement by Barnes & Noble of a new entry in the Nook series, however, it would be completely unsurprising if things are being timed for a bit of overshadowing. There has certainly been a history of competition between the two ever since the Kindle vs Nook rivalry began. The exchange should be fun, if nothing else.