Amazon's Bezos hints at more devices but won't confirm smartphone rumors
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos declined to comment on rumors that the company will build its own Android-based smartphone. However, he did hint that Amazon will be launching more devices next year.
In an interview with AllThingsD, Bezos indicated more devices are on the way. "We will certainly--not any time soon--but next year," he said, when asked about the company's device pipeline. "We have some more things that we hope people will enjoy. It's premature for me to talk about them."
Speculation of an Amazon smartphone was heightened yesterday by a report from The Verge, which, citing unnamed sources said Amazon would unveil a smartphone running a variant of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system at its media event Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. The report noted that the phone was unfinished and Amazon did not mention a smartphone at yesterday's event.
Rumors have swirled for months that Amazon will build a smartphone to add to its collection of Kindle ereaders and Kindle Fire tablets. A Bloomberg report from July, which also cited unnamed sources, said that Amazon is working with Foxconn International to build the smartphone. The report also said Amazon is acquiring wireless patents that would help it defend itself from potential lawsuits for patent infringement.
Bezos said the company remains committed to running its devices off of a specialized version of Android. "We treat Android like Linux, and so it's a base operating system layer," he said. "We have a large dedicated team that customizes Android and that's what you see on the Kindle Fire." Bezos added that the company has no plans to change that strategy.
A Kindle smartphone would give Amazon another device through which it could sell its content and services. Bezos noted this model during his presentation yesterday in which he revealed additional Kindle models. "We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices," he said. "That is better alignment. If someone buys one of our devices and puts it in a desk drawer and doesn't use it, we don't deserve to make money."
A potential Amazon smartphone raises several notable issues. Unlike many OEMs, Amazon could lose money (or make very little of it) on the hardware while recouping it via digital content sales. However, Amazon also would likely not have access to all of Google's Android services, since Amazon's current Android devices run a modified version of the platform. Another unanswered question is what operator would carry the Amazon smartphone. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is providing the LTE service for Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD with LTE connectivity and it also provides the connectity for the Kindle Paperwhite with 3G.
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