Following major announcements from Microsoft, Apple, Google, Research In Motion and countless other tech companies, we're beginning to enter the mid-year lull in which rumors abound. A great deal of said rumors focus around Amazon, who made waves late last year with their surprisingly decent and budget-friendly tablet, the Kindle Fire.
This year, it is believed that the Seattle-based e-commerce company will follow-up the Fire with a successor, properly dubbed the Kindle Fire 2. But that isn't all. There are as many as four different Kindle Fire 2 units rumored, alongside the audacious move of creating its own smartphone to compete against the likes of Apple's ever-popular iPhone and some of the most popular Android devices.
None of the rumors are particularly new, however. They have been developing for several months now. And rumors of an Amazon phone are aplenty.
Until now, I've mostly brushed them off and tried not to think about what an Amazon phone would entail. I pre-ordered the Kindle Fire minutes after it was announced and I even reviewed it. The verdict was great. For $200, you can't expect something to the extent of an iPad or high-end Android tablet. But the Fire was a decent device. That said, after the review period, the Fire collected dust for about six months before I sold it to a friend.
The Kindle Fire was unique because it was the first budget-friendly tablet that wasn't – for a lack of better words – a piece of crap. Sold below manufacturing costs, Amazon did not intend to profit from the Fire itself. Instead, it was an easy way for Amazon to put its services directly in the hands of users. Books, apps, Amazon Prime Instant Video and even their favorite e-commerce site, all just a few taps away.
For all intents and purposes, the Kindle Fire was all it needed to be. But if the Kindle Fire is any indication of what Amazon's first attempt at the smartphone market will be like, I will gladly pass. There were some deficiencies with the Fire that are ... less acceptable in the smartphone realm.
First being specifications. By no means were the Kindle Fire's specifications mind-blowing, awe-inspiring or anything of the like. Everything about it was middle-of-the-road. Even if the Amazon phone were to be sold at or below cost like the Fire, most people aren't going to want their daily driver smartphone to be anything short of the best. (I know I won't.) When you consider that the Galaxy Nexus is only $349 sans contract (not at the moment, of course, due to an injunction), Amazon already has some stiff competition in the balance between budget and quality.
Also, with the Fire, Wi-Fi as the only wireless connectivity was acceptable. The same isn't true of a smartphone, else it would just be a beefed up MP4 player, right? How will Amazon market its first phone? Will it be a global device? Will it be sold unlocked or on-contract? What connectivity will it have? The answer to each of these questions will all make a major difference in the success – or failure – or an Amazon phone.
Every single aspect of the device itself will factor into manufacturing costs. The more corners Amazon cuts, the lower they can sell the phone, which means design will likely be very low priority, as will image sensors and practically anything that doesn't make consuming Amazon's services top notch. This worked quite well with a tablet. But a smartphone, although very similar in nature, is a different beast. The smartphone market is a lot to take on at the moment, and I'm not sure Amazon is prepared for its rapid pace and do or die nature.
After seeing what ASUS and Google are capable of in comparison to Amazon's Kindle Fire, I'm not sure Amazon's upcoming Kindles and smartphone have much value proposition. The Play Store has more content and the Nexus 7 is considerably more well-rounded than the Fire, and there are numerous benefits to always being up-to-date with the latest version of Android versus being on a mucked-up, dumbed-down version.
I reserve my final opinion of the Amazon smartphone until we know what it fully entails. But if the a Kindle Fire is an indicator for what to expect, the Amazon smartphone will be dead on arrival. It may turn some heads to begin with, but it will soon be forgotten in the midst of rumors of next-generation smartphones and better phones for the same price on-contract. After all, this is America we're talking about here.
I hate writing off tech before it's ever official and I have faith in Amazon's endeavors, but an Amazon smartphone sounds like nothing I want to take part in. What say you? Does an Amazon smartphone sound appealing to you? Did you buy a Kindle Fire? Would a smartphone also made by Amazon perfectly compliment it?