Amazon's Android Smartphone Unlikely To Arrive Before Holidays

Amazon still testing its first Android smartphone, and production might not start until late this year or early 2013, suggest sources.
Amazon's 7 Cloud Advantages: Hype Vs. Reality
Amazon's 7 Cloud Advantages: Hype Vs. Reality
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Amazon's smartphone is still undergoing tests with the Kindle-maker's component suppliers, reports The Wall Street Journal. The device, which is believed to run Google's Android mobile operating system, would add to Amazon's hardware offerings, which already include several tablets and e-readers. Amazon is looking to bring a smartphone to market to better compete for consumers' media dollars.

Following last week's report from Bloomberg, the Journal Wednesday said Amazon is looking at devices with a screen measuring somewhere between four and five inches. The bulk of today's mid-range to high-end smartphones have screens in that range, and lower-cost devices tend to have screens measuring less than four inches. This clashes a bit with the information provided by Bloomberg last week.

Chinese manufacturing firm Foxconn, which builds some Apple products including the iPhone, is working with Amazon to develop the device, said Bloomberg. Rather than shooting for the top of the smartphone market, it likely will be a budget offering.

Pricing is one of the key differentiators for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, which costs $199 and also runs Google's Android platform. As a digital content device, it drastically undercuts the iPad's entry price of $499. It's unclear what price point Amazon hopes to achieve with this smartphone.

[ Read Amazon Android Smart Phone Could Upend Industry. ]

The Journal's most significant revelation, however, pertains to the timing of the Amazon Android smartphone. According to its sources, production of the Amazon smartphone is unlikely to begin until late in 2012 or early 2013. This means the device will miss the important holiday sales season, which will be chock full of competitive offerings from the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung, and others.

Lots of questions surround this smartphone. Is this device necessary, and can Amazon really do a better job of creating a digital content consumption device than its competitors are already doing? More importantly, will an Amazon-branded smartphone help Amazon actually sell more digital content?

First, people have to buy the device itself. The sheer volume of competing devices is overwhelming. Many factors will affect how well it sells. For instance, which carriers will sell it? What technology will it offer? Can it match the specs of the best smartphones and still do so at an attractive price? Will Amazon give discounts on digital goods to Amazon smartphone owners, or will they have to pay the same price as Android and iPhone customers? How will video content sales and rentals work--the same as on the Kindle Fire? Will it be sold prepaid or postpaid?

Amazon might be working on a smartphone, but the hurdles are high and the obstacles many--especially if it wants to take on Apple and Google. With the arrival of this smartphone not scheduled until late 2012 or early 2013, Amazon will only be that much further behind.

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