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July 6th 2012 9:13 am

Would you buy an Amazon smartphone?

Just as the world is waiting for the next version of the Kindle Fire, Bloomberg has lit a fuse with a report that Amazon is going to come out with its own smartphone. According to the report, Amazon is working with Foxconn, the Chinese company that manufactures the iPhone (along with about 40% of all consumer electronics products). Bloomberg sees Amazon moving into smartphones in order to gain another platform for digital content distribution.

I'm personally a little dubious. While the Kindle Fire made sense as part of Amazon's overall strategy, moving into the phone business is a much more complicated matter, mainly because you either have to deal with carriers and subsidies, become an MVNO and deal with all of the headaches that come with that, or sell it as an unlocked, unsubsidized model at a price that will never make it a mass-market product.

I also think that Amazon's strategy of making its content available on every platform via Kindle and Cloud Player apps makes a lot more sense than expanding into the costly, competitive, low-margin cellphone business. With companies like Nokia and RIM barely hanging on, and pretty much nobody but Samsung and Apple really making any money, does Amazon really want to go there? Of course, I've been wrong about Amazon before (I thought they'd get out of hardware entirely, and focus solely on software to get their content out). And Jeff Bezos has to be one of the smartest execs in the world. So, if they do make a phone, he knows something I don't about the market.

What do you think?


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12 replies

While I wouldn't buy one I think this kind of competition is better for Android as a whole. I'd rather see a company like Amazon enter the cellphone market by making their own hardware with a modified OS than to keep seeing OEMs churn out handset after handset that get dumbed down on specs as they bounce from carrier to carrier.
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For all the hype over the iPad and other iOS, Android and similar devices, Amazon have always been significantly more intelligent in their approach to content, service and hardware design. Amazon.com is or at least was (according to those who have noticed a decline in the site's usability) one of the best uses of hypermedia/hypertext. Likewise, the Kindle's display and form factor are excellent and innovative. But what tops it all off is the WhisperSync system that is not only free, but has eliminated that nuisance that is roaming. If they bring the same smarts to a phone - they deserve the same success! My bet is a Galaxy Note form factor but with a colour eInk display for ease of consuming of Amazon content.
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Agreed- whispernet is almost everywhere, and with Verizon and AT&T throttling/canceling unlimited data plans, I would definitely go for one of these.
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I highly doubt that Amazon is concerned about making money on their phone, in the same way that it appears they weren't concerned about making money on their tablet. If they were going to make a phone then they would do it to drive their content to more people.
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Access to all my Amazon content on a phone is desirable to me, and I would consumer more of it, if I always had it with me.
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I use a huge number of Amazon products, and would jump to their phone just to keep things simple. Seamless access to content I already use would be a big plus.

If it were only a smaller Kindle Fire with a phone in it, it would be far superior to any Blackberry I've ever used.
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Most of us would not buy one of these, and by "us" I mean the people that will talk in this thread. For the most part, we can afford "the best" and we have it. That 75 percent of us that don't have smartphones could be lured. Those of us that don't know you can access amazon already on most devices because their business model depends on it. That being said, can they do it?

Marc really hit the nail on the head when discussing how non-trivially hard it is to get consensus from the wireless network providers. Think about the hell Google went through with the Nexus One, or the torture Apple users locked into ATT hell went through. Unless they have some magic silver bullet solution to that problem, I see this being a dismal failure for them, and being reported as such.
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For me it depends on the quality and design of the phone. I have used a kindle fire already and like their android OS.
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Agreed. I do like the way they reskinned android. I bought two of them for my daughters.
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No, I wouldn’t, and why would anyone? iPhone is just too good.
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No, and considering that Amazon just wrapped their Kindle refresh for 2012 without a mention of a phone, I don't think they're headed in that direction in the near term. My experience with the Kindle OS (the OS that runs on the Fire, not the e-ink readers) hasn't been great. I never owned a fire, but I've spent quite a bit of time playing with them. I found the OS to be slow, unpredictable, and in some cases downright buggy. I can see people dealing with those issues on an arguably subsidized (based on their assumption that they'll make it back in content sales) tablet. But a phone is both a tool and a toy, and the first time a business related phone call won't connect, or an important email gets buggered, you'll be longing for the tried-and-true iOS experience. Even stock Android (the un-bastardized version Google ships on Nexus devices) would be a better option.
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I would love to get one of their phones. Especially if i can run it unlocked or through my current provider (SPRINT) Never had a customer service issue...even with the Kindle Fire(still waiting on my update though) I would specifically love to see a "pure" Amazon phone...security(opt out options, please), updates, and fragmentation is a big deal. If they can overcome those issues with the FIRST headset, they've got me. *Already having a vast selection of batteries, cases, and accessories out of the gate would be ideal. Specialty/charity colors would be over the top.
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