Amazon: We're not launching a free smartphone now or ever

Rumors of a planned smartphone from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) have run rampant for a couple of years and even picked up in recent months, but the online retailer says it is not introducing a smartphone this year.

Amazon made the statement in response to an article written by former Wall Street Journal reporters Jessica Lessin and Amir Efrati and published on Lessin's website. They reported last week that Amazon was considering introducing a free smartphone. After the story went viral, Amazon responded with a statement on Sunday, saying, "We have no plans to offer a phone this year, and if we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free."

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is developing two smartphone versions, including one with a 3D screen. Last week's article by Lessin and Efrati cited an anonymous source who said Amazon has "talked to wireless carriers about offering its phones, though it is expected to offer them directly to consumers through its website."

That article contended that Amazon is intent on undercutting rivals to grab "meaningful market share" in the smartphone market so it can generate revenues through e-commerce sales and online advertising. They also said an Amazon smartphone, like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, would be based upon an open-source version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS and would not include Google apps.

Rumors of Amazon's wireless ambitions do not stop at devices. Last month, the Internet giant was reported to have tested Globalstar's terrestrial low-power service (TLPS), possibly for use as a wireless connection for an Amazon in-home media hub. Amazon is said to be interested in TLPS for wide-area connections, which could replace expensive cellular service that currently delivers data to its Kindle-brand devices.

A July 1 FCC filing made by Globalstar investor and partner Jarvinian Wireless Application Fund noted that Globalstar was engaged in testing "to help a major technology company assess the significant performance benefits of TLPS for a transformative consumer broadband application." 

For more:
- see this Jessica Lessin article and this article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this TechnoBuffalo article
- see this BGR article

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