After months and months of discounts, with Amazon trying to move any remaining stock of its failed Fire Phone experiment, last year we finally saw the handset run out of steam: the company’s inventory looked depleted, and the saga of the Fire Phone appeared to be over. No doubt a costly mistake for Amazon to learn, we wondered if the close of the Fire Phone’s story meant the end of the company’s smartphone ambitions, and if we’d see its future mobile interests constrained to tablets. But now a new report suggests that Amazon’s not done with phones quite yet, and claims the company is looking for new manufacturing partners to deliver on the dream of a handset with tight Amazon service integration.
The nature of the arrangement’s Amazon’s going for here isn’t entirely clear, but supposedly the company is looking to work with OEMs to produce phones with a from-the-ground-up Amazon software presence. That’s supposed to be something more substantial than a few pre-loaded apps, though we don’t know if we’re talking about anything like full on Fire OS – but that would certainly fit the bill of low-level Amazon integration.
Amazon’s end goal here sounds like what it’s been trying to achieve all along: giving Android users an alternative to Google for services like search, app discovery, and payment processing. And while we’ve no doubt that Amazon’s capable of providing many of those, so far it’s proven to be a hard sell to convince users familiar with Google’s offerings to voluntarily give them up. After all, while doing so many be in Amazon’s interests, what’s the hook for the consumer?
That remains the part of the story we’re just not getting, and whether or not Amazon’s able to give users a good answer there could be key to the ultimate success – or a rehash of the Fire Phone’s failures – for this plan.