Amazon reportedly interested in offering smartphone to consumers for free [UPDATED]

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: September 6, 2013

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet

Ever since Amazon entered the tablet game with its Kindle Fire, several rumors have claimed that the online retailer has its sights set on the smartphone game as well. Today another such report has surfaced, and while there's a lot that we don't know about the Amazon smartphone, this latest leak does have one intriguing detail to add.

According to sources speaking the former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin, Amazon is interested in offering its smartphone to consumers free of charge. Details of the plan are still light, but it's said that Amazon doesn't want buyers to pay for the device regardless of whether or not they're getting new service along with it. The retailer has reportedly discussed its ideas with unnamed carriers, but ultimately Amazon wants to sell the phone in its online shop.

There's still no word on when the long-rumored Amazon smartphone might actually launch. Today's report says that the company has had a difficult time finding a manufacturer to partner with on the device, an issue that could be exacerbated by Amazon's desire to selling the phone for free. Another problem that Amazon has been running into is getting itself a partner that hasn't already committed to making devices with a Google-approved version of Android, something that Amazon's handset wouldn't be since it would run the retailer's heavily-modified Android software.

While much of Amazon's smartphone is still shrouded in mystery, there are a few factors that would likely make the company a big player in the smartphone arena if it ever actually enters. Not only is Amazon a large company, but it's also fairly well-recognized and its line of Kindle ereaders and Kindle Fire tablets are some of the more popular devices in their particular categories. It'd be pretty interesting to see what would happen if Amazon were able to break into the market with a free smartphone, but for now it sounds like the company may still have some work ahead of it before its plan can be realized. Would you be interested in an Amazon-made smartphone running the customized version of Android that's found on the Kindle Fire tablets?

UPDATE: Amazon has told Jessica Lessin that it does not plan to launch a smartphone this year. The company went on to say that if it were to release a handset at some point in the future, "it would not be free."

Via Jessica Lessin (1), (2)