Rumors of an Amazon smartphone have circulated for well over a year now, but a new report out today says that the retail giant will use HTC to help it make its upcoming devices. Three different smartphones are said to be in development, according to The Financial Times article, but one of the HTC-made devices is apparently close to completion. One source warns the paper that while one of the devices is in the advanced stages of development, Amazon has pushed back its timetable before.
Earlier rumors pointed to two different Amazon smartphones, one of which would use a new 3D interface. The other device is rumored to be offered for free or at a very low price. It's widely believed that Amazon will not release a smartphone this year — a 2014 launch date seems likely for at least one such device. During that last round of rumors, Amazon rejected claims that it would offer a phone for free, and it said it wasn't going to release a phone this year.
"We have also been very open to co-branding and collaborating with carriers and other technology brands.”
Both Amazon and HTC declined to comment on the rumors to The Financial Times, but chief of marketing Ben Ho told the paper that "We have been very focused on building our own brand, but we have also been very open to co-branding and collaborating with carriers and other technology brands.”
It's big news for Amazon, but it's most certainly more important for the struggling HTC. The Taiwanese company reported its first-ever quarterly loss earlier this month, an unfortunate watermark for a once-mighty device maker that's recently had difficultly finding a foothold against competition from Samsung's marketing muscle and Apple's iPhones.
Before HTC stepped into the spotlight itself, the company earned its reputation making hardware for others, as it once did for Palm. Since then, flagship devices like the HTC One have proven that the Taiwanese phone maker can still produce some of the best hardware in the business — even if it struggles to sell them. Despite the company's financial struggles, chairman Cher Wang recently said that its biggest challenge in the next few months is its marketing and brand strategy. Hitching itself to Amazon and a successful phone launch might help the company turn itself around. The rumored partnership sounds a bit similar to one with Facebook that resulted in the HTC First, a solid phone that sold poorly.