Killer non-Google Android smartphone to be released this year, could it come from Amazon?

April 8, 2012
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    Despite the fact that most technology experts were skeptical of the Kindle Fire’s success in a tablet market so heavily dominated by Apple’s iPads, the guys at Amazon seem to have hit the jackpot with the 7-incher released last fall.

    While it is yet to truly challenge the iPads, the Kindle Fire, with its killer price and great app support, has managed to be second-best in a very crowded and extremely competitive market. The Fire will most likely get a rehashed version during 2012 and, according to recent reports, Amazon might also be prepping the release of a couple other tablets.

    However, it appears that Amazon is not yet satisfied. If we are to believe some speculations that have recently surfaced a couple of days ago, they might launch an Android-based smartphone of their own as well.

    To make this rumor all-the-more juicy is the fact that speculation has been initiated by Ted Morgan, CEO at Skyhook Wireless. Skyhook is a technology company involved in a couple of legal battles with Google for the past few years. According to Morgan, the Kindle Fire’s success has emboldened several Android device makers to seriously consider the possibility of manufacturing their own devices, running “forked” versions of Android.

    As you may or may not know, Amazon’s Kindle Fire runs a modified and heavily skinned version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The Fire’s software doesn’t give users direct access to Google Play, but instead reroutes user’s app desire to Amazon’s own Appstore.

    Getting back to Ted Morgan’s recent statements, we have to stress the fact that he doesn’t clearly say at any time that Amazon is working towards the manufacturing of an Android-based super-phone (or “major” phone, as he calls it), but he is obviously implying it.

    “Everyone’s emboldened by the success of Amazon. Everyone’s saying ‘we need to go our own way’”, said Morgan, who also “confessed” that he’s been spending a lot of time recently with companies that are forking and tweaking Android.  “[Google] really [does] restrict anything a device maker can do to stand out, for their own purposes… Nobody wants to just be a manufacturer for Google. You see that with what Amazon has done, where they made it their own, and you also see a whole host of manufacturers taking Android down their own path,”  added Skyhook’s CEO, painting a pretty dark picture for Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s search giant.

    An Amazon super-phone? That sounds awesome!

    Even though we are basing pretty much this entire article on rumors and speculations that might seem far-fetched for most of you, it is still worth mentioning. If what Mr. Morgan says is true, then the Android we know now could be a radically different (and substantially more fragmented) beast in the near future.

    Right after the Fire’s release in November last year we were almost sure that Amazon would be bringing to market the “Kindle Phone”. The gadget was supposed to be priced around 200 dollars or less and be powered by a TI OMAP4 processor.

    Of course, the rumors proved to be (partially) bogus, as there’s still no sign of such a device on the market, but that doesn’t mean Amazon didn’t consider releasing such a device.  Due to time passing and technology evolving, if today’s speculations prove to be accurate, we could be seeing an even more exciting gadget from Amazon soon.

    Still, while I hate to be a buzz kill, it’s important we stay grounded. We’ve all gone down rumor creek before. We know where it can go. Keeping in mind Ted Morgan’s bias against Google with their ongoing legal feuds, we should probably take these rumors with a pound of salt or so. Also, he doesn’t clearly say that Amazon is the company behind the “major” forked Android smartphone that is to be released by the end of the year, so we might be seeing someone else trying to strike out on there own.

    That would be fine by me though, as I personally think that competition never hurts, and will never hurt the technology market and its enthusiasts.

    Amazon Phone? Kindle Phone? Fire Phone? Fire sale? Good for Android?

    Comments

    • droiddiddy

      Google needs to be evil and block Amazon’s access to Android apps. And have ICS closed sourced and have it available to their handset allies (Moto, Samsung, HTC, LG, etc). Google will lose this war eventually to Apple and Amazon if they dont do this. G needs to take amazon out of business first.

      • Ookami_Evo

        The backlash from rescinding their “don’t be evil” and their open source attitude would do them more damage. Ironically it might push people to Amazon’s ecosystem as they’re using Android anyway furthering the damage done.

        • WestIndiesKING

          I hate when i hear people talk about “dont be evil” quote from google and misunderstand the meaning behind it. ITS DONT BE EVIL TO USERS WITH THEIR INFO! In the sense of selling it and mis using user info in a negative manner. That’s what they mean by not being evil. So stoppin a competitor from using their OS with out there Market or apps isnt them “Being Evil” to us but protecting themselves. Google needs to force android market and google apps on anything using Android period. You use our OS you have to have our Market and Google apps available period. That way no matter how you skin it Google services are available to all users who use their OS. Nothing “evil” about that’s business and a smart move. Google took the time to build the OS and keep it updated now you just need to provide users to Google apps is all they are asking. I think its a fair request for the use of a free OS.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/RQPRMGVLY43XZBXHDQ37NH5UDM Jessika

          its not dont be evil quote ookami , its dont be evil to users with their info.

    • Ronald Rowland

      I don’t get the Kindle Fire hype. Iview 760TPC does the same, a little less screen res plus HDMI out,32g SDcard,comes rooted(can add ICS+full google play),add is all most half the price.

    • AndroidiMac

      Why ANYONE would cheer on deeper more rapid fragmentation of Android is beyond me. Amazon’s Fire is an abomination and more fragmentation is exactly what Apple needs to dominate Android in the future. The Kindle Fire worked because of PRICE, and it was expected to be a color e-reader, so existing Kindle users felt it was a substantial upgrade from what they had. The unit has yet to be upgraded to ICS (which is far superior to it’s frankenstein Gingerbread cobble) and probably won’t be. In the long run, the lack of apps – there are NO apps tailored to the Kindle’s 7-inch screen, and the Kindle Android app store is tiny- will be it’s undoing.

      A phone is even worse- the number one complaint about Android is the lack of timely updates due to fragmentation. A forked phone will make things worse.

      If anything, we need LESS fragmentation, MORE minimum standards, LESS skins, MORE updates.

      “Android Authority”- YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF

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