Amazon shot down rumors that it is working on its own smartphone by flat-out denying that one is coming, at least not this year. A company spokesman went on to say if Amazon ever did ship a smartphone of its own that the device wouldn't be free. That makes sense because Amazon is a retailer, and just like the Kindle, a smartphone would need to be a gateway tool to buying more through its own store.
The smartphone denial came via technology journalist Jessica Lessin who spoke with Amazon representatives. The spokesperson didn't elaborate on their statement which leaves the door open for an Amazon smartphone, just not this year and certainly not for free.
Reports claimed that Amazon would be adding a smartphone to its self-branded product lineup and that the device would be offered to at least some of its customers for free. Amazon's Kindle ebook readers have already been drawing customers in as an easy way to purchase and read electronic versions of books and magazines, and they also offer an easy way for shoppers to buy other products from the online retailer -- but they all have price tags.
Selling its own smartphone would let Amazon compete with Apple in much the same way its Kindle lineup competes with the iPad and iPad mini. Presumably an Amazon phone would cost less than the iPhone so it would draw the attention of price-conscious shoppers, and its deep tie into Amazon's services and retail would be a nice convenience just as it currently is for Kindle users.
For Amazon, jumping into the mobile game won't be just about getting a branded smartphone into user's hands. Instead it'll be about strategically placing its store and services in front of potential shoppers. Amazon's job is to sell products -- real and digital -- and the hardware it has made so far are designed to help do just that.
Amazon already has the foundation in place for a smartphone thanks to the Kindle line, and it's very possible the company has been experimenting with smartphone designs. Until the company sees a way to turn a smartphone into more product sales through its online store, however, don't look for one to show up on real or virtual store shelves.