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

April 8, 2012

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.

Jeffrey Nelson's Forknife

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?