Amazon has already proved that it knows how to sell gadgets. And while the company has yet to reveal actual sales figure numbers, we do know that its Kindle and Kindle Fire products are selling well enough that it doesn’t need to make a profit off of them. In fact, the company makes a profit the second someone uses one of its devices to buy a book, a movie, or anything else from Amazon’s digital store. So what’s next?
Most signs point to a smartphone. The most recent rumors, which surfaced earlier this week, suggest that Foxconn, the same company that builds Apple’s tablets and smartphones, is already working to build Amazon’s new device. In fact, it’s expected to launch sometime during the middle of next year, and will apparently cost $100 – $200. That price seems a bit low, right?
A smartphone might typically cost up to $200, perhaps even $300, but that usually includes the subsidy that you pay your wireless carrier. In other words, you’re paying the full price of your smartphone (around $600) over the course of your two year contract. That’s what allows carriers to drop the price so much. But what if Amazon takes the same non-profit approach that it does with its Kindle Fire and applies it to smartphones? Will it change the industry and force others to meet the lower price point? It’s hard to say at this point, because it’s also possible that Amazon will team up with wireless carriers to sell the phone with a contract and on a subsidy.
My best guess is that Amazon’s new smartphone (let’s called it the Kindle Fire Phone) will run a custom version of Android just like its tablets do. In other words, you’ll probably turn on the device and see a shelf that’s loaded with your books, movies, magazines, applications and music. And I bet it will be just as easy to purchase even more of that content directly from Amazon. Will the Google Play market be on board? I’m not so sure – I think Amazon is going to try to keep consumers inside its ecosystem as much as possible, which means it won’t make sense to include Google Play. After all, Google’s market place also offers movies, books and more, and Amazon won’t see a profit if consumers gravitate towards that store instead.
Here’s the issue, though. I know that a lot of phone owners typically like to have the latest version of Android installed on their smartphones. That probably won’t be the case with the Kindle Fire Phone. Not for long, anyway, because Amazon rarely updates its tablets to the newest version of Android. That’s unfortunate, too, because Jelly Bean is an amazing operating system right now.
So what do we know for sure?
We know that Amazon appears to have a phone in the works and that it has allegedly already entered manufacturing. We know that it’s likely to launch sometime next year, probably running Android, and at a price point between $100 and $200. We don’t know the carrier partners yet, however and… worst of all; we don’t yet know what it will look like.
But boy, am I excited to see what’s in store.