In Denial, Amazon May Have Confirmed Kindle Phone

After it was reported that the Internet retailer is working on its own smartphone and could revolutionize the mobile industry by offering its Kindle-based phone for free even without requiring users to sign up for a typical two-year contract, Amazon has denied that a free phone is in the works. The retailer’s denial may be a strong sign and that it is in fact working on a smartphone to compete with Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Nexus smartphone, Samsung’s Galaxy-branded Android phones, and others.

Though Amazon had denied that such a phone would be coming this year to writer Amir Efrati of the blog operated by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica E. Lessin, and refuted that the mobile computing device would be offered for free, Amazon did not overtly deny that it is in fact working on the device that’s been rumored for some time now. The company, however, did not state when the phone would be launching to eager consumers.

“A spokesman for Amazon.com Inc. said Sunday the online retail giant won’t launch a smartphone this year, and that if it did launch one in the future, it “would not be free.””

And though the phone may not be free, it may still come in with decent specs and a low price point if Amazon launches one. Amazon had used this strategy for its Kindle Fire tablet, a device that helped popularize the Android tablet computing market with its low $199 price point. Amazon is able to do this as it runs its own ecosystem with digital storefronts for digital apps, music, movies, magazines, and TV shows. As Amazon gets a cut of the profit for each digital sale of content title, it could earn money from the sale of content, rather than through the traditional hardware model.

Amazon's Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet helped popularize the 7-inch form factor with its low $199 price tag.

Amazon’s Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet helped popularize the 7-inch form factor with its low $199 price tag.

Amazon did not go into details about the smartphone, its pricing or subsidy models, and what carriers it will partner with to launch the phone. The company had initially partnered with Sprint to offer the Kindle e-reader wireless device in the U.S., but later switched to a partnership with AT&T Mobility to offer a global GSM version of the Kindle e-ink reader that would work in the U.S. and abroad.

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It’s also unclear what operating system Amazon would rely on for its smartphone. Amazon could go with a forked version of Google’s Android operating system again for the Kindle phone as it already uses the OS for its Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon heavily skins the OS to leave very little traces of Android and overlays its own experience on top of Google’s base OS. Likely, that trend will continue if Amazon chooses Android again.

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