Amazon, chasing Apple, Samsung, may enter smartphone market

The retail giant, looking to expand beyond its Kindle tablets, may release an Amazon-branded smartphone in September.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the company's Kindle Fire tablet line. CNET

Amazon, in another move beyond its retail roots, plans to release a smartphone in September, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The long-rumored device would thrust Amazon into the highly competitive smartphone market currently dominated by Samsung and Apple. The company would introduce the new phone in June, and it would begin shipping in the fall, unnamed sources told the Journal.

We've asked Amazon for confirmation and will update if we hear back.

As reported previously, the same sources said the phone would try to stand out in the crowded market by including 3D technology.

Reports of an Amazon-branded smartphone have been circulating in the rumor mill for years, with the expectation the phone would run a version of the Android operating system that already powers Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. The Kindle Fire, which broke into the market with a big splash thanks to its low $200 price tag, was seen as a possible competitor to Apple's popular iPad. Although it hasn't come close to conquering the tablet market, Amazon is confident enough to keep investing in hardware outside of e-book readers.

While Amazon won't reveal how many Kindle units it's sold, the company has continued to deliver on devices, including several iterations of the tablet, and the recently released video streaming Fire TV and accompanying gaming controller. All the devices are meant to hook customers into consuming content, like video, e-books, and games, through an Amazon portal.

In addition to creating the hardware, Amazon has tried to attract more developers to its app store which has now grown to 200,000 apps. It doesn't come close to Apple's 1 million apps, but Amazon continues to woo developers.

The bottom line is that Amazon has no problem making a long-term bet on devices if it means getting customers to consume more content and, in some cases, purchase more goods through those devices.

Update, 3:01 p.m. PT: Added more background and information.