HTC Now Pulled Into Amazon Smartphone Rumors

The latest gossip surrounding Amazon's supposed Kindle smartphones is that the company is working closely with HTC on the devices, and that there are actually three in the works, not the previously rumored two. Sources told the Financial Times that one of these is in an advanced stage of development, but the device will not launch until 2014, if at all. Naturally, Amazon refused to comment on the rumor, but HTC was less resistant, saying that the company is always exploring new opportunities.

"We have been very focused on building our own brand, but we have also been very open to co-branding and collaborating with carriers and other technology brands," said HTC's chief of marketing, Ben Ho.

The move means Amazon may be following Google's lead by partnering with handset makers to create Nexus-style "Kindle" phones with a specific features set -- like the rumored four cameras to create the pseudo 3D interface -- and operating system, likely Fire OS 3.0 or later. Until now, Amazon was presumably on its own in its smartphone efforts, as this report is the first time a device maker has been associated with the project.

Amazon may have chosen HTC due to the latter company's experience with Facebook, albeit a lackluster one. Back in 2011, HTC produced the tasty-sounding Salsa and ChaCha, both sporting a dedicated Facebook button, nuking all previous rumors of a dedicated Facebook phone. HTC then returned to the Facebook scene in April with the HTC First, which received poor reviews over the lack of removable storage, the camera and Facebook Home itself.

Previous rumors claimed that Amazon was working on two phones: one high-end model and one inexpensive model. Both phones were reportedly part of Project B, one of many "Alphabet" projects under development inside Amazon's Lab126 facility in California. Sources recently claimed that the high-end phone eventually moved to a "Duke" codename, and is now using "Smith." Financial Times points out that Amazon typically hires contractors to work at this facility, and this would be the first time the company has reached out to a specific device maker.

Rumors also stated that each phone is reportedly shipped around internally inside a locked steel case, with only the screen appearing, to prevent leaks. The devices are not allowed to leave the building, thus engineers can't even work on the phones from home. The development teams are supposedly split between Seattle and Sunnyvale, and engineers from other projects have reportedly been pulled to the phones, reducing the staff on other hardware projects.

Amazon just recently announced Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito," the current Android-based operating system for the Kindle Fire HDX and revamped 7 inch Kindle Fire HD tablets. The big surprise was the software's support for enterprise, including a native VPN client, a native SCEP (Simple Certificate Exchange Protocol) client, and device management APIs. Therefore, the tablets can be used in a BYOD environment, as could a Fire OS-based smartphone.

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  • Mike Friesen
    I dislike amazon's android tablets... No google play... But if they had their own complete os, I think I'd be ok with it.