An Amazon Kindle smartphone might not be such a far off dream at this pointAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Gone are the days where upgrading to a smartphone will cost you an arm, a leg, and probably couple of kids if you wanted to get in on the action early. But these days smartphones are a dime a dozen, and whether you're looking for something budget-friendly or high-end, there are plenty of options out there from various manufacturers. Although high-end smartphones have been getting the spotlight for the past several years (with good reason), it seems we have gotten to a point where even the low end of the spectrum can still get the job done decently while still playing nice with the wallet. We can see this with various phones made by BLU Life, Nokia and Motorola's Moto G. Particularly in the case with the Moto G, we can see that even low-cost phones can make a huge impact on the industry.
Shifting gears here for a moment (but only slightly), we also happen to know that low-cost tablets can also have a huge impact. Tablets started similarly to smartphones, with the iPad being the first tablet consumers really took interest in back in 2010. That first generation iPad sold for about $500 for the lowest amount of memory. Almost 4 years since the release of the first iPad, you'll find that the pricing of newer iPads haven't changed since its inception; the newest generation of iPads also start out at $500. However, the iPad is just one fish in a pond now full of many different varities. In that same pond you'll find tablets made from Samsung, HP, Asus, Dell, and other known manufacturers. You'll also find a rather well-known tablet called the Kindle Fire, created by massive online retailer Amazon.
Once upon a time, you wouldn't think that Amazon would be producing its own line of tablets being a massive online retailer. It was almost just as unlikely that you would think that Google, a search engine, would one day own and develop their own smartphone platform. Obviously, both of these did happen, and they're both rather successful at what they do. Amazon first really achieved success with their first gadget, the Amazon Kindle eReader. When it became clear that many customers wanted more than just an eReader, Amazon's solution was to produce the Kindle Fire; a comparatively cheap tablet that runs on a forked version of Android called Fire OS. Although the Kindle Fire came out over a year after the iPad and a few other (fully functional) Android tablets, the most attractive thing about the Kindle Fire was the cheap $199 price tag. At the time, a decent tablet by a reputable vendor was unheard of. The timing of the release was just right.
Despite how successful Amazon has been with their tablet line, the company has been mysteriously absent from the tablet's closest cousin, the smartphone. There has been rumors and talks of such a phone in the past, but obviously no such phone exists presently. However, after reading this article by author Tero Kuittinen of BGR, I'm starting to think that the idea of an Amazon smartphone may be closer than we think.
As Kuittinen points out in their article thanks to a report from Chitika, Samsung currently has 55% of Android web traffic in the United States. Oddly enough, the second largest Android web traffic generator doesn't come from another smartphone manufacturer - it comes from Amazon. This means that Amazon is able to generate this much web traffic with their Kindle Fire tablet line alone. You can just imagine what this could mean for the company if they were to release an Android smartphone.
The question many people wonder when it comes to a potential Android smartphone is whether it could actually penetrate our very saturated market here in the United States, especially if they end up going with a smartphone running on Fire OS. If Amazon did produce a phone running on Fire OS, the biggest disadvantage would be that most likely they would end up like their tablet cousins - which means no Google Apps from the get go. If the general response to the release of the Nokia X, which also neglected to include Google Apps while running on Android, is any indication of what we can expect, Fire OS might have trouble garnering any attention around here when it comes to what people want in a smartphone.
Then again, Amazon has thus far been able to sway people to their tablet line under the same circumstances. Amazon might not be able to give you Google Apps right out of the box, but they do have a cheap price tag and valuable services that can attract people. For example, Amazon Prime Instant Video is only available on the Kindle Fire line of tablets when it comes to tablet and smartphone availability - otherwise, you'll have to use your computer or a supported game console to view any videos your Prime Membership provides or that you've purchased through the service. Amazon also has their own cloud server, so cloud storage would be an option as well.
Even without Google Apps, it probably wouldn't be too long before somebody cracks the code and provides root access to the device that allows you to install the full Google Play Store. They have already done this with every Kindle Fire tablet, so as long as you're willing to take the time to learn how to root and flash you'll be good to go anyway.
One of Amazon's main focuses seems to be making good products for cheap. Given that the Moto G, among others lately, have shown us that it is indeed possible now to create a smartphone (specifically an Android smartphone) with cheaper components that still allows it to run smoothly, it simply doesn't seem that far-fetched of an idea to expect Amazon to whip up something smartphone-like here soon. As somebody who visits Amazon just about every day, along with millions of other members, I have to admit that an Amazon smartphone is something that I would like to see come to fruition.
Readers, what are your thoughts about an Amazon smartphone? Would you be interested in one at all? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!