Amazon has laid off "dozens" of engineers who worked on its failed Fire phone as part of a broader curtailment of its hardware development center, Lab126, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The company is also said to be stopping or slowing projects including a 14-inch tablet codenamed Project Cairo, a projector codenamed Shimmer, and a "smart stylus" named Nitro that converts handwriting into digital shopping lists.
The Silicon Valley-based Lab126 still has several projects in the works, according to the WSJ. A "high-end computer for the kitchen," codenamed Kabinet, is reportedly designed to act as a home hub and can be controlled with voice commands for a variety of functions, similar to Amazon's recent Echo speaker. A glasses-free 3D tablet is said to be in development, using different technology to the Fire phone's camera-powered "Dynamic Perspective." Some engineers say they're planning for a Kindle e-reader battery that could last two years.
Phones may not be off the table entirely
Even phones may not be off the table entirely. Amazon reportedly "stretched out its timeline for smartphone development indefinitely" after planning a cut-down version of the Fire phone, but one source told the WSJ that phone projects have been moved to Seattle. Lab126's phone unit was apparently merged with the tablet and e-reader team following the Fire phone's struggles.
Amazon's hardware efforts have always been about getting people to buy stuff from Amazon, to varying degrees. But if the company is serious about cutting costs, its future products may take more inspiration from the hyper-efficient Dash buttons than the clumsy Fire phone.