Amazon to offer Kindle smartphone for free?


Amazon has reportedly been working on a smartphone for quite some time but nothing concrete has yet to emerge. Last we heard, Amazon was working on one model with a 4.7-inch display as well as a high-end model with a glasses-free 3D display and retina-tracking technology to make images seem to float above the screen and appear in three dimensions from a wider angle. Now former The Wall Street Journal reporters Jessica Lessin and Amir Efrati suggest that Amazon is looking to offer its smartphone for free.

Exactly how this would work is not clear but the report suggests that Amazon might instead require that customers sign up for Amazon services such as Amazon Prime, its own loyalty program. More interesting and potentially disruptive to the industry is that Amazon is even thinking of offering for free even if they do not sign up for any of its services.

Amazon is also talking to carriers to gauge their interest in such a smartphone. Amazon would also offer the device through its own website.

Lessin’s sources add that this free strategy is still being evaluated and still hinges on a number of factors such as Amazon’s ability to come to a suitable financial arrangement with its hardware partners. Unfortunately, the same sources add that it appears unlikely at this time that Amazon will be able to line everything up for such an offer.

Much like Google already does, Amazon is banking on generating revenues through online advertising and e-commerce sales. It is the same strategy that Xiaomi is looking to use with its smartphones, including the recently announced Xiaomi Mi3 which packs high-end specifications at an unheard of price.

The report also suggests that the reason that Amazon smartphones remain the stuff of rumours is that they’re struggling to find manufacturing partners who have not committed to only producing Android devices approved by Google. Amazon notoriously uses forked versions of Android for its Kindle tablets and would be expected to do the same for its smartphones.

There is still no clear sign as to when Amazon might launch its Kindle smartphone, for free or otherwise.

One thing is clear: If Amazon can pull off its free Kindle smartphone strategy, there will be a lot of nervous competitors watching to see how customer react.

Sources : Jessica Lessin // BGR