The Kindle Fire proved that Amazon could take a big chunk out the tablet market, and now its seems the mega-retailer has set its sites on a smartphone. Target date? Late 2012 or early 2013. On paper, this move makes plenty of sense. Amazon would have yet another vehicle for delivering its vast array of content--from music and movies to apps and books. But what can you expect from an Amazon-stamped handset versus the legions of Android smartphones already on the market? Here's what insiders are reporting.
4 to 5-Inch Screen
Adding fuel to the rumor fire, the Wall Street Journal has cited "unnamed sources" that the device's screen is between 4 and 5 inches diagonally. How do they know this? Apparently, the phone is already being tested. The same report says that the device will go into mass production either later this year or early next year.
Android OS, But Skinned Like the Fire
If the Amazon smartphone is indeed real, there's more than a good chance it will run a forked version of the Android operating system (like the Kindle Fire). Additionally, like the Fire, expect that the handset will put Amazon's storefront of content and other products front and center. This will be no regular smartphone, but rather a device that'll make impulse buying from the world's largest online retailer almost too easy.
3D Mapping On Board
First Apple, now Amazon. 3D mapping companies are turning out to be a hot property among tech behemoths these days, and it looks like Amazon got the memo. GigaOM broke the news that the company recently snapped up 3D mapping startup called UpNext, marking a new frontier. The Kindle Fire doesn't even include a GPS radio, but this report certainly points to the possibility of a beefed up Kindle Fire 2 and the likelihood that Amazon's unicorn smartphone will include a mapping feature.
Silk Browser Included
If the Amazon smartphone exists, it's almost a sure bet that it will include the Kindle Fire's Silk browser as well. Using split architecture, the Amazon Silk browser pre-renders web content in the cloud and boasts supposedly faster surfing speeds than traditional browsers. In our tests of the Kindle Fire, we found that the cloud acceleration actually slowed things down, so hopefully Amazon has worked out the kinks.
Foxconn is Making It
According to "two people with knowledge of the matter," Bloomberg recently reported, Amazon is working with Chinese mobile phone maker Foxconn on the as-yet fabled smartphone. Its sources also allege that the company is currently gobbling up a host of patents to avoid accusations of infringement when the device finally launches.
A Seasoned Phone Executive Will Take Charge of Apps
There are plenty of things you can uncover through e-sleuthing, and the latest Amazon phone rumor making its way down the grapevine is proof of that. It was recently discovered on LinkedIn that Amazon has poached Robert Williams, ex-Senior Director of Business Development at Microsoft's Windows Phone division, to come work as its new App Store Director. When asked, Amazon declined to comment on Williams's specific tasks at the company.