Amazon tablet: Yes; Amazon smartphone: Maybe

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: May 9, 2013

Earlier today, Senior News Editor Alex Wagner reported on the rumors that massive online retailer Amazon may be working on its own smartphone for release sometime in the future. Whether this is actually true or another rumor, I have to wonder just how well an Amazon smartphone would work out - especially if they plan to make it similar to their Kindle line.

The first thought that popped into my mind when reading the rumor was wondering if Amazon would make an Android smartphone (like their tablets run on) or if they would attempt to make their own smartphone platform. Normally I wouldn't see Amazon making a smartphone platform of their own simply because they specialize in online retailing, but I would have said the same thing about a company that primarily served as a search engine once upon a time as well. The smartphone industry is positively huge right now, if you want to get in on some of the action while it's hot now is the time to do it.

If Amazon is indeed in the process of producing a smartphone and decides to use Android, my only hope is that they keep their tablets and their smartphones different in the way the platform is used. While the smartphone market is big, it's also very competitive and tough to compete with some of the higher end devices. If Amazon expects to make smartphones with a heavy Amazon-centric skin like they have for their tablets I wouldn’t expect their phone to sell well at all.

People who purchase a Kindle are likely doing so with the intent of using it primarily as an e-reader first and a media tablet second - at least, that is who I would recommend it to anyway. People who purchase smartphones expect it to work like a smartphone, which includes all of the bells and whistles. You want to have the phone that has access to all of the apps that, take for instance, Android has to offer. On the Kindle you don’t get the option to download all the apps – you have the option to download the apps that Amazon says you can download. But I highly doubt that they would actually take that route.

But how would Amazon fare if they created their own platform? I’m wondering if this is the start of a fifth major platform. Amazon has the money to do it if they wanted to; they just need the creativity to create something bold and new. I'm sure it wouldn’t start off as a major hit, but neither did Google.  It would be cool if Amazon created a new platform that was competitive with the rest of the platforms – but I’m still nervous that they would make it to centralize around the Kindle too much to be considered a real threat to anybody else.

But perhaps I’m looking at this with the wrong state of mind – maybe Amazon is just providing a more functional device for its target demographic. A Kindle line of smartphones would certainly have its niche market, if that’s what they’re intending for. After all, now that phones are becoming much larger there’s really no reason to have to carry around a phone and a tablet, is there? A Kindle phablet might be perfect solution for the bookworm on the go. Unfortunately most smartphones already have the option to download a Kindle App anyway, so if this was the direction they were heading in they would need to do something to make their interface stand out more.

Since we’re also hearing that they might have a phone with a  3D display in the works, I can only hope that this might bring something more interesting to e-reading in general – perhaps a new outlook on picture books. Instead of there just being a flat image on the screen, the image would “pop out” in 3D – perhaps even animate. This would certainly be a hit for entertaining children (or it might scare them, who knows) but either way, it’s something that's pretty cool to think about.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Since this is all purely speculation at this point, I will just leave off at the fact that I'm very interested to see if an Amazon smartphone does indeed go into production, and I will be keeping a very close eye on the news for it.

Readers, what are your thoughts on an Amazon smartphone? Is it something you think you would be interested in just by association with the company or are you a little more skeptical? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Images via Amazon

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