After the relative success of its Amazon Kindle tablet range, especially the latest Kindle Fire which found a niche in the market, there is talk that an Amazon smartphone could be on its way later this year.
The rumour surfaced in the Summer last year and following the phones progression since then is massively difficult, with intermittent stories popping up every few months but no real details or evidence backing up most of the reports.
Recently there has been more concrete proof to support the proposition that Amazon could be lining up its own smartphone, but before we get to the specifics let me take you back to July 2012 where this story seems to begin.
The network that looks to be credited with the initial breaking of this story is Bloomberg who reported that “people with knowledge of the matter” said that Amazon were developing a smartphone that would attempt to rival both Apple’s iPhone the plethora of Android handsets on the market.
This first report was the result of conversations with a number of unnamed sources, rumours from which are normally a mixed bag, they can be spot on but they can also be way off the mark and be guilty of cheap rumour mongering.
There could be an argument that the fact a spokesman for Amazon declined to comment on the speculation points to some legitimacy, generally if a company is posed with a question about their business that is wide of the mark they’d look to correct reports. On the other hand the single spokesman from one of the biggest corporations in the world might not have known about the project himself and didn’t want to say something he’d ultimately regret.
The only details that were released by the unknown source was that Amazon were working with Foxconn, the same Chinese mobile phone manufacturer that makes iPhones, to develop the alleged product.
This story was picked up and reported for a while, nothing really came out to support or disprove the rumour and newer stories were just stating that according to Bloomberg an Amazon smartphone could be on its way.
Things went quiet for a little while after this, for a few months there were no suggestive announcements that progressed this saga any further. It was around Christmas time when the story reappears, mid-December to be specific.
Once again though the stories were thanks to unknown business insiders and were picked up by both T3 and the Daily Mail newspaper. These reports seemed similar to the previous ones, they related to Foxconn, who are already a business partner to Amazon as they create their Kindle range, and were based on hearsay.
There was a significant factor in these reports however, as they progressed the story slightly. There was the first indication of price, around the $200 (£130) mark apparently, and there was a suggestion of the sorts of numbers Foxconn had been commissioned to create, supposedly Amazon made an order for Foxconn to ship five million units.
This round of rumours also hinted at a possible release date, around the second or third quarter of this year. The Mail raised a good argument at this point as they highlighted that Amazon boss Jeff Bezos had just patented the radical idea of self infalating airbags to prevent damage on dropped smartphones.
Jeff Bezos patenting such a groundbreaking idea for smartphones fuelled speculation and for good reason, if they had designed this concept whilst developing their own smartphone they would certainly rush to get it patented and it would be a great way to distinguish a smartphone that, if released, would be entering an increasingly crowded marketplace.
The fact another announcement came out so close to this development, coupled with the additional information in this period suggested that the rumours could indeed materialise to be factual, these unnamed sources could be a clever marketing ploy to drum up hype about the product before more official avenues release an official statement, as at this point there still was no official word from Amazon.
Just as before there was a long period of silence after internet buzz died down, with speculation kicking back up last month, this is when things start to look somewhat more official with a number of solid details and concrete evidence beginning to surface.
Reports may have become more official recently but at the same time they have started to become slightly contrived and muddled, with certain articles contradicting others, which is throwing up questions about the concept as a whole.
It began with some bad news for those waiting on the Amazon smartphone, as there was news that the release will be delayed for a second time, after reports in February told of the smartphones first setback.
This time around it was manufacturing issues that was holding the phone back, if true it must have been disappointing for Amazon, who initially hoped to have their product on the market in the second quarter of this year.
Things begin to contrive themselves here somewhat, as alongside reports that the phone is still under its engineering verification test (EVT) and that manufacturing won’t start until June there were some claiming that issues like these had already been addressed and any delays had been rectified, meaning consumers could expect a June release.
Others claimed that plans were very far behind and things were in a bit of disarray, meaning a more realistic release date could be 2014, if this was the case it would be a year behind the initial speculation back in the Summer of 2012 claimed.
Despite these contradictions there were a number of details that seemed to be widely agreed upon, mainly that an initial 4.2inch display on the prospective smartphone had been ditched for a larger 4.7inch screen, this redesign was credited as one of the main reasons that production had been delayed for so long.
Secondly, and one of the most official and concrete aspects of this saga, was the appointment of former Windows Phone executive Charlie Kindel by Amazon to work on a shady and unknown project. This was the first official and public move by Amazon that suggested that all the speculation and hype could be true, before it had been comments by industry experts or unknown sources.
Indeed the appointment of Mr Kindel strongly supports a whole host of previous reports, if Amazon really are having the difficulty in production that many claim it is very feasible that they would hire an executive that had been there and done it as Mr Kindel was at Microsoft when they were first releasing their smartphones.
His Linkedin profile currently reads ‘now at Amazon working on something wonderful.’ It also described an engagement in mentoring and advising startups, his knowledge of which would certainly be applicable to this secret project that Amazon are working on.
A final piece of information that seems to have been agreed upon by most commentators in the industry is that the rumoured smartphone will run a similar OS as the Amazon Kindle, a strongly tailored and adapted version of the Android operating system.
So there you have it, that’s all the information on the Amazon smartphone so far, it began on somewhat unfounded evidence and has now culminated in the hiring of an expert on the subject which is the only official evidence out there at the moment. It does seem to be widely accepted that the project will materialise, however the massive contradictions in key aspects like what stage of production the phone is at and possible release date makes the whole thing seem slightly uncertain.
What do you all think, I’d love to hear from Kindle users that like the OS so much they would seek to extend their experience to a mobile, also do you think Amazon are joining the smartphone party too late? If they manage to put their patented airbag system into a phone could that be enough of a selling point to make the masses go crazy over the product?
Images sourced from Daily Mail online and Androidspin.com