Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge states that they have “confirmed” that Amazon has a phone – however, they don’t know when it will be released. Recall that Amazon has a press event, believed to be for new Kindles, tomorrow, and things start to make sense – kind of.
While it has long been rumored that Amazon is going to release a phone similar to its Kindle Fire in that it would be based off of Android for app compatibility, but has been skinned so thoroughly as to almost erase any signs of Google’s original OS, there isn’t as much of a reasoning to do so. The Kindle Fire makes so much sense for so many people because it’s a peripheral device: unlike the iPad, it isn’t designed to replace a laptop computer. It’s designed to read Kindle books, listen to your music from Amazon MP3, watch video streamed from Amazon, and to download the occasional game from Amazon‘s app store. It has an email client, and a web browser, but both are so thoroughly skinned (and, frankly, slow) that most ignore that feature.
The Kindle Fire works because it is literally all about content. While an iPad plays videos and music and allows for the reading of books, it is also about content creation (some would argue that it’s to a limited extent; I’d disagree – I wrote this on an iPad). The Kindle Fire is about the Amazon ecosystem, but the Amazon ecosystem is one that isn’t really suited to smaller screens. There’s a reason that the Kindle Fire has a seven inch display – that size is widely regarded to be the best for reading, or for watching movies while relaxing. Both of those mediums are best consumed on a larger device, as opposed to a phone.
Which is why I don’t get the phone. If Amazon is all about ecosystems, why would it create and ship a device that doesn’t represent the Amazon ecosystem in the best possible way? A phone isn’t great for reading a book, or watching a movie. It can do both, sure, but those aren’t its strong suits.
So either this rumor is just that, or Amazon has something crazy planned. If it’s the latter, I’d expect it to be some insane price (think a smartphone with modern specs, unlocked, for $250 – potentially less, if you get ads). Amazon is good about making back their money with ads and purchases from them.
One more thing: if there is a phone, I seriously hope Amazon’s UI/UX team has developed some better chops than what was demonstrated on the Kindle Fire.