In addition to rumors about updated Kindle Fire tablets that will arrive this Fall, rumors of an Amazon-branded smartphone are also heating up. It is reported that Amazon is working with components suppliers in Asia to enter the smartphone market and the Internet retailer could launch its own branded smartphone as early as this year.
Consistent with trends in the Android smartphone space, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Amazon’s offering may arrive with a 4- to 5-inch display, which would be conducive to consuming contents such as digital TV shows and movies as well as for e-reading Kindle titles. An entry from Amazon would have to compete against Apple’s iPhone, Samsung’s various Galaxy models, and Google’s Nexus phones.
Likely, an Amazon phone will run Google’s Android operating system, but will be heavily skinned with Amazon’s user experience. The device would eschew the Google Play store for Amazon’s stores for music, TV shows, movies, magazines, e-books, and other content.
It’s unclear how Amazon will enter the market and how it will position its smartphone. In the past, the Kindle Fire launched with premium specs in a 7-inch form factor with a very affordable price tag. Amazon could tackle, and potentially transform, the cellphone industry in a similar manner by offering more affordable phones with high-end specs. The company would be able to recover costs if it sells its phones heavily discounted through sales of digital content.
It’s unclear how advanced Amazon is in its phone plans. To be successful in the U.S. market, hardware manufacturers often have to work closely with carriers to get the phones subsidized and tested for carrier networks. It’s unclear if Amazon has had discussions with carriers at this time.