Future of Amazon hardware uncertain, as layoffs come to Lab126

Amazon never really set out to be a company that designed and sold its own mobile hardware, but a heck of a lot has changed since its early days as an online bookstore. From the initial success of the Kindle e-reader, Amazon’s expanded its hardware offerings ranging from the affordable Fire tablets, to its Fire TV set-top box, to the unusual Echo. And while Amazon’s had a few hits in there, it’s also seen its share of misses, maybe most notably with last year’s Fire Phone. It’s failures like that one that may be responsible for some big changes happening at Amazon’s Lab126 hardware division, as reports arrive of some unprecedented layoffs.

Official numbers aren’t available, but sources claim that Amazon’s let go dozens of Lab126 engineers over the past several weeks. While a few firings now and then might sound like business as usual for a company as large as Amazon, this is reportedly the first time Lab126 has been the target of such measures.

Beyond the staff reduction, sources suggest that Amazon is scaling back its hardware ambitions, canceling, modifying, or indefinitely delaying many existing projects. Some, like a new large-screen tablet, may no longer be happening, though others, like a kitchen-based hub for the connected home, are supposedly still on track.

These changes may mean we end up seeing less new Amazon hardware emerge over the next few years, or at least a focus on different priorities; don’t hold your breath for a Fire Phone 2.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!