Buried deep in the heart of the Amazon group of companies is a secret unit known only as Lab126. Their task: the design and development of high-profile, portable, hand-held consumer electronics products for Amazon.com. It was Lab126 that created the original Kindle eBook reader and it is also responsible for Amazon’s range of Android-based Kindle Fire tablets.
Lab126 is currently based in Cupertino, where Apple has its HQ, but it has recently leased more than 500,000 square feet of space in an office complex in Sunnyvale, California. The new offices, which are in Moffett Towers, can hold more than 2,500 employees. What is interesting is that Lab126 currently employs only half that number of people. Clearly Amazon is looking to expand the resources of Lab126.
“Lab 126 continues to expand and we look forward to its growth in the Bay Area,” an Amazon spokeswoman said on Thursday.
What could Amazon want with all that space? One thing is for sure, the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Paperwhite have been well received and Amazon will be developing new versions and iterations of these products. But you don’t need to double your office space to do that.
Back in July there were rumors that Amazon would launch five or six new devices this year, one of which would have a 10-inch display. At Amazon’s recent launch event the company took the wraps off two new Kindle Fire models (the Kindle Fire HD 7 inch and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch) as well as re-issuing the original Kindle Fire. If you include the Kindle Paperwhite, which was also announced, you have a total of four devices, but without a 10-inch device.
This means that if the rumors are true, Amazon’s development of the 10-inch device may already be underway, and the company might need extra staff to help bring that to completion. But what about the sixth device that was mentioned?
There was lots of speculation about Amazon releasing a mobile phone, and clearly it hasn’t yet. But with all that extra R&D space, Amazon could be looking to the mobile space to continue its battle against Google and Microsoft. It is also worth noting that there is a version of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch that includes 4G LTE, another technology that Amazon would need if it were to build a phone. Plus Amazon just added a mapping API to its Kindle Fire SDK. It is said that there is no smoke without fire, and the smoke is getting thick!
Amazon has not indicated whether the extra space would be used to re-locate Lab126 completely from Cupertino to Sunnyvale (meaning the new space could be used to double Lab126′s work force), or if this is additional space which will be used along with the Cupertino offices. The second possibilty means that Amazon will now have enough space to nearly triple the number of people working at Lab126. Whatever happens, Lab126 will be sure to continue developing some excellent and innovative devices for Amazon.
Would you like to see a 4G LTE phone from Amazon? Leave a comment below and let me know.