The online retailer is currently working with major parts suppliers in Asia to test a smartphone, according to officials from the suppliers, and mass production of the device could begin either late this year or early 2013.
The screen of the smartphone is rumored to be between 4 and 5 inches, which is a little unusual given that Amazon will likely take the same approach as it did with the Kindle Fire and seek to keep the handset affordable, while looking to profit from digital content sales. Larger screens are generally preserved for mid-range to high-end phones, so it would be unusual to see such a large screen on an inexpensive device. On the other hand, the larger display is somewhat necessary in order for users to properly enjoy Amazon's wealth of Android software and other media.
But while it's true that Amazon has done well with the Kindle Fire, making this seem like a natural next step, smartphones are a different animal. Most consumers (American ones, at least) buy their phones through carriers, meaning that Amazon would be wise to find at least one partner for this venture, if not more. It may mean a slight loss of control over the device for the retailer, but it may be necessary if it wants a chance at succeeding in the smartphone market.
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