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Amazon bungles wireless jungles

Since late last year, Skinformants say, Amazon has been itching to get into wireless. Having conquered books, music and spatulas, Amazon set its sights on a store for wireless products and services. Wireless Skinsiders say the company has been trying to hammer out partnerships to get its store off the ground--to no avail.

    Once a year I take my son Vermel to visit my Grandma DuBaud at her cranberry bog outside of Quebec. It's easier, on the whole, schlepping the kid to the wilds of French Canada than having my grandmother here. I'd rather she not see how I live, and on top of that she's become a bit of a snoop in her old age.

    Vermel was skeptical when I told him we were making our trip this week, noting that I'd already taken 34 weeks of vacation in the past 12 months. At that I showed Vermel my new wireless office, which fits neatly into an attaché case.

    Vermel scoffed, pointing out that only with the aid of several full-time IS technicians am I able to operate a computer. "Ten-to-one you'll be offline before the butter has melted on your cranberry pancakes," he predicted.

    The kid had a point. After all, more able hands than mine have fumbled wireless communications--including, according to the rumor mill, online retail giant Amazon.com.

    Since late last year, Skinformants say, Amazon has been itching to get into wireless. Having conquered books, music and spatulas, Amazon set its sights on a store for wireless products and services. Wireless Skinsiders say the company has been trying to hammer out partnerships to get its store off the ground--to no avail.

    Turns out that opening a wireless store is a lot more difficult than vending V.C. Andrews novels or Corvettes. After plugging away at the project for almost a year, the store has yielded nothing but delays and, rumor has it, may not launch at all.

    Obstacles inherent in the wireless jungle, say those in the industry, include myriad rate plans that change constantly and the impatience of consumers who don't want to wait to have their phones shipped to them.

    An executive at one of the wireless products and services vendors said Amazon had been attempting to partner with sites such as his to launch its wireless products store, but the e-tailer had failed to work out a deal.

    "We were all in consultations with Amazon, but Amazon's just going to build it on their own," he said.

    Does it make him nervous to go up against Jeff Bezos?

    "Amazon's been working on this for about a year now," he noted wryly, "and hasn't been able to put anything together."

    Amazon, as it is wont to do, declined to comment on unannounced products or services, so we also failed to get the company to explain its budding interest in the Imaginarium, purveyor of toys with "high learning value."

    Vermel, who as I mentioned last week has been spending much of his summer hunting around the Whois database, found that Amazon has been spending much of its summer adding to its Toys "R" Us collection by registering Imaginarium-related domains, including "imaginariumamazon.org," "amazonimaginarium.com," "amazonimaginarium.net" and numerous other permutations with hyphens and such. Does this signal a deal, or is that just a figment of my imaginarium?

    Curiously enough, if Amazon is contemplating a wireless store, it's missed the boat on some choice Web addresses. "Amazonwireless.com," for instance, belongs to Everythingwireless.com of Hollywood, Fla.; and "wirelessamazon.com" belongs to Capital Technology Group of Dublin, Ohio.

    Would someone tell Jeff Bezos there's still time? "Amazon-wireless.com" and "wireless-amazon.com" are, at the time of this posting from Grandma DuBaud's Ethernet-wired cranberry bog, up for grabs. My wireless attaché is out of order, but they're still taking my messages at the office. Send me your rumors.