The times when Amazon goes quiet are when Google should fear it most, and as usual in the run-up to the holiday season, the online retailer has come up with a range of introductions to challenge the Android leader from within its own fortress – and may be about to debut its long-awaited smartphone.
Over the past couple of years, Amazon has been doing its best to establish itself as an Android heavyweight, competing with Google not just with its tablets and content platforms but to be the premier app store. A handset would certainly extend that reach, enabling the company to control the experience of its stores and content services on small screens as well as big.
Several reports claim that the company will finally unveil one or more handsets as part of a string of five new gadgets, some of which will be ready for this year's holiday season. Rather than working with anonymous white label manufacturers as it does for the Kindle eReaders and tablets, it is said to be pursuing a Google-like partnership approach for the phone, tying up with HTC.
The Taiwanese vendor has scored several hits lately in design terms, with its well-received One smartphone and now its eye-catching 5.9-inch HTC One Max, a phablet with fingerprint recognition. But there are doubts whether even these strong devices can make up for the decline in market share which the handset maker has suffered in recent years, and it may be pursuing some left-field options to restore its fortunes. So it would probably welcome the revenue and credibility boost of an Amazon contract, especially as it was pushed out of Google's Nexus inner circle by Samsung.
According to The Financial Times, HTC and Amazon are working together on a handset which could give the Taiwanese firm the shipments boost it badly needs. A white label or even co-branded device would detract from HTC's recent – and initially impactful – efforts to market its brand identity, but this would be balanced by the promise of volumes. Amazon has broad channels, massive consumer profile and a proven ability, with its Kindle eReaders and tablets, to shift devices at affordable prices in order to drive sales of its contents and other goods.