HTC reportedly making phones for Amazon. But what would Google say?

by: Bogdan PetrovanOctober 15, 2013

amazon logo 4 [aa] Hopetts/Flickr

HTC has partnered with Amazon to develop a range of smartphones, reports the Financial Times.

Amazon has been rumored for years to be developing some kind of Kindle phone inside its secretive research division Lab 126. Just at the beginning of this month, TechCrunch reported Jeff Bezos’ company is working on a high-end phone with 3D capabilities, as well as a low cost handset (an earlier rumor said this budget phone would be free, but Amazon denied it).

Now, Financial Times cites people familiar with the project claiming that Amazon has partnered with HTC to create three smartphones, of which one is in an advanced stage of development. The timeline for the release of the devices is subject to change, and Amazon may cancel them altogether. It’s unlikely that Amazon would launch any of the devices this year, said the sources.

Amazon and HTC declined to comment, but the Taiwanese company’s marketing boss Ben Ho commented “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”. Ho was likely referring to the First, the ill-fated smartphone HTC developed in collaboration with Facebook.

What about Google?

There’s a small chance the Financial Times isn’t accurate, but, if it is, there’s a big question looming – what will Google do?

Amazon forked Android to create the OS powering its Kindle Fire tablets, which is incompatible with Google’s services. We can only assume Amazon will use the same OS on its smartphones.

As a member of the Open Handset Alliance, HTC gets to use Google’s suite of apps, which are closed source, in exchange of maintaining the integrity of the open source Android. In other words, HTC cannot fork Android or support another company that forks Android, without risking losing access to Google’s apps.

HTC is in a dire situation, but even so, alienating Google by joining forces with Amazon is dangerous. Mountain View could simply stop licensing Google Play, Search, and its other apps, requiring HTC to provide alternatives. Sure, Amazon could step in to provide its Appstore and other services, but it’s still a huge gamble for HTC.

One more thing to note: the WSJ reported in late August that HTC is developing a new operating system for the Chinese market. Like now, back then we wondered if HTC would be bold (or crazy) enough to fork Android and thus risk incurring Google’s wrath.


  • fjkjdsf

    that would be hilarious if all HTC devices were reduced down to getting apps from the amazon app store…

    • Amine Elouakil

      not happening, HTC Phones will run their respective OS aka Android and WP while most likely the Amazon phones will be branded Amazon and built by HTC nothing much to it really

      • fkjdasd

        the fact that HTC would be contributing to the forked versions of Android out there, Google probably would have a problem with it, and thus restrict access of Google Play to ALL their Android devices

        • Amine Elouakil

          Don’t think so because the said devices won’t be branded HTC most likely, they’ll probably have the Kindle name, also HTC has nothing to do with the software devoloppement that’s something that Amazon, has to deal with, unlike the Acer/Alibaba love story, but anything things are still rumors right now

        • Nick V

          I don’t think HTC is going to have anything to do with the OS. I beleive that they are just making the physical devices, and then Amazon will move in from there.

  • Amine Elouakil

    If Amazon is doing the Branding it shoudn’t be an issue for HTC, Unlike the ACER and Alibaba debacle, Of course Google will lobby as any other company would do, but I believe there is nothing that prevent HTC from doing so from a legal point of view, This is a good way for HTC to be relevant and push either some advantages from Google or to get some good cash from Amazon otherwise. It’s Business, HTC was the kickstart of Android, why should they stick only to Android where they can be the kickstart to some more stuff?

  • Mayoo

    Heres To Competition

  • Dimitar Gospodinov

    this will be the final nail in the coffin

    • AlexNapo

      Absolutely..Soon the coffin will belong to the Undertaker(Amazon)..!

      • Mayoo

        You called?

  • cycad007

    Not sure what will happen with the HTC-Google relationship. Certainly, this isn’t a positive. Yet HTC really needs *SOMETHING* to differentiate itself from Sony, Samsung & LG. Teaming up with Amazon is undoubtedly *HUGE* & Amazon is only getting stronger.

    I have mixed feelings about this. Certainly, I’d like HTC to continue supporting Android…but they clearly are desperate for money right now.

    • Amine Elouakil

      The thing is, they are dieing due to said HTC-Google relationship, slowly but surely if things going the way they are, I think the One is different than any Android that was made to this date.

      While it’s still a rumor, and even if it’s true it doesn’t mean that HTC is droping Android or anything but rather they’ll make the Amazon phones as an OEM (as they did in the past) , also there are rumors that HTC is working on it own SoC to get rid from it Qualcomm depandence, and this could be one way to justify the cost of developement because I doubt that HTC will strike a deal with Amazon if it is not for a big order

  • Bone

    Hero To Corpse

  • Magnetic1

    I can see how Amazon is developing a counter offensive to mobile phones being used like credit cards. With their own phone, every-time someone tries to pay for something, Amazon can intervene with a price match guarantee. Forget privacy, you just get the best price whatever you spend money on.

  • htcLOLZ

    HTC, the crackwhore of the mobile world. Will do anything for money, but as soon as they get their hands on a few bucks they find a way to turn it into smoke.

  • Hello

    Amazon’s system is superior to Google Play for almost all content except perhaps apps. The only reason I don’t move all my apps to Amazon is that they don’t support linux development of Android apps…