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Report: Amazon eyeing gadgets beyond Kindle

Amazon's Lab 26, the unit responsible for the Kindle, is looking to create other devices beyond the e-book reader to broaden the company's reach in digital content, says The New York Times.

Though it already enjoys a leading share of the e-reader market, is Amazon looking to carve out a wider niche by creating other digital devices?

Is Amazon looking to expand beyond the Kindle?
Is Amazon looking to expand beyond the Kindle? Amazon

A story from Tuesday's New York Times Bits blog says yes.

Citing "people with direct knowledge of the company's plans," the Times blog says the online retailer is looking to build other types of gadgets beyond the Kindle in a bid to retain and expand its niche in the digital marketplace. Amazon executives have reportedly watched in frustration as other companies have jumped onto the digital content bandwagon and are willing to do "whatever it takes," to stay competitive, says the Times.

As with its popular e-book reader, the new devices would not be the end goal but more a way for Amazon to sell music, videos, and other content to hungry consumers, according to the Times.

The brains behind the new gadgets would be Amazon's Lab 126, the same unit that created the Kindle. With its job board displaying openings for almost 80 different positions, many in the engineering area, some of those new hires would likely work on upcoming versions of the Kindle.

But the Times believes other tech-savvy staffers could be tapped to create some of the new devices that Amazon is eyeing.

If so, this goal apparently harkens back to the original mission for for the unit envisioned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Citing the same people with knowledge of the company's plans, the Times said that Lab 126's initial mandate was to develop a variety of devices but that Amazon ended up focusing on the Kindle.

Bezos apparently was looking at music players and other electronics, said the sources. There was even talk of a cell phone, a project that "seemed out of reach," according to one person quoted by the Times but which could still be in the cards.

If Amazon is looking to beef up its line of digital devices, customers may have to wait awhile. The people cited by the Times said that the hardware jobs are proving tough to fill. As an alternative, Amazon is thinking of acquiring some smaller companies to further its goal. But either way, the devices are likely still on the drawing board.