For the past two years, one of the most consistent rumors in tech was that Amazon would launch a Kindle smartphone. Over those last two years, we’ve only ever heard more rumors as each suggested release date comes and goes. The latest rumor, however, may indicate that we’re finally getting somewhere.
The Financial Times reports that HTC has partnered with Amazon to create a line of Kindle smartphones that would be solely available through Amazon’s online retail portal. The report doesn’t go into any detail, but it does say that we may see Amazon’s first foray into the smartphone market as early as next year.
So, is this the real deal? Like most rumors, it’s hard to say at this point. I’m a firm believer in the Amazon smartphone, but it’s existence as nothing but a rumor over the last few years doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. It’s good news that Amazon may have finally found a hardware manufacturer partner, but that partner being HTC brings with its own set of worries.
Earlier this month, HTC announced that it took its first ever quarterly loss to the tune of $119 million. Before that, there were already whispers that the company’s efforts to secure a third place position behind Apple and Samsung weren’t exactly panning out. It didn’t help matters when the company spent $12 million on a weird ad campaign starring Robert Downey Jr.
Of course, the Amazon deal could also turn out to be incredibly profitable for HTC. The Kindle Fire has been the best selling item on Amazon for the past few years, and a high quality, yet cheap, Kindle smartphone could prove equally successful. After all, Amazon believes in selling its hardware at a loss and making the money back on sales through its physical and digital retail ecosystem. It remains to be seen if such a model would work on smartphones, but Amazon is the only company with the cojones to try.