If rumors prove correct, Amazon will unveil a smartphone at a high-profile June 18 event in Seattle.
The big question is, why?
As pointed out by many a publication over the past few days, numerous companies have plunged into the smartphone space and failed. For every Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S that achieves blockbuster sales and critical acclaim, another dozen fade from the market after leaving barely a ripple in the popular consciousness. If Amazon launches a smartphone, pouring money into an extensive marketing campaign won’t necessarily guarantee success; those other failures enjoyed massive backing, as well. (That being said, Amazon can advertise the phone on its absurdly well-trafficked website, giving it an advantage denied other smartphone vendors.)
According to a new article in The New York Times, Amazon’s willing to take such enormous risks because a smartphone will help it sell more products via its gargantuan online store. In theory, a mobile device would allow customers in the midst of their daily routines to order products with a few finger-taps, allowing Amazon to push back against Google and other tech companies exploring similar instant-gratification territory.
But a smartphone also plays into Amazon’s plans for the digital world. Over the past several years, the company has become a popular vendor of cloud services and used that base to expand into everything from tablets to a growing mobile-app ecosystem. A smartphone could prove a crucial portal for all those services.
If an Amazon smartphone proves a hit, however, it could become a game-changer for mobile developers, opening up a whole new market for apps and services. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has succeeded in the digital space largely by opening up various platforms—whether Kindle self-publishing or the Amazon app store—to third-party wares. It’ll be interesting to see whether he does something similar with the smartphone.
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