We have been hearing and reading rumors about smartphones from Facebook and Amazon for a long time now.
The Facebook Smartphone
Facebook phone rumors are nothing new. I recall reading a TechCrunch story about it in 2010. At the time, Facebook spokesperson Jamie Schopflin told Mashable that, "[T]he story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate. Facebook is not building a phone."
That was then, and this is now, and judging by the "media only" event invitations that went out, something's up. I seriously doubt that Facebook would be holding a media event for a major new release of their mobile app for Android or iOS.
The Amazon Smartphone
Amazon smartphone rumors are a little bit more recent. They didn't start until people saw that Amazon could build a credible tablet beyond the Kindle e-reader as CNet talked about back in 2011. Will we see the book-seller-turned-tech-giant CEO Jeff Bezos on stage later this year hawking a Kindle Fire smartphone?
According to AppleInsider.com, DigiTimes has been at it again leaking information about Amazon's Android powered smartphone shipping this year. The rumors of a new Amazon smartphone flared up again when DigitTimes indicated that Amazon was witching from a 4.3" display to the larger 4.7" "phatablet" size. Lending credence to that idea, that an Amazon smartphone is still be months away, is this little snippet that appears in the AppleInsider story:
"Development of Amazon's rumored handset reportedly remains fluid, and the retailer is said to be "working on or enhancing other specifications" of the device."
So, what we can gather, if any of these rumors are accurate, is that both Facebook and Amazon are hard at work on their smartphone plans. Facebook looks to be closer to the finish line as they are calling a major tech event next week. It is unclear how Facebook would position a smartphone. Would they view themselves as a premium brand go try to complete directly with Apple and Samsung on the high end? Would they go after the smaller Windows Phone and BlackBerry market? Or would they they to complete on the "free with a new 2-year contract" level?
Amazon, still looks to be refining their device to get the most bang for the buck, which makes sense because the Kindle Fire isn't about profit margins on the hardware, it's about how much can the vendor sell with their own "a store that fits in the palm of your hand" smartphone. With that in mind, I can't see Amazon trying to position their phone any higher than the mid-market. Since Amazon is more about selling things and content, it makes more sense to me that they would have their own phone on the low end side, and continue to develop their mobile apps for iOS, Android, and all the rest to maximize the number of people viewing the goods they have for sale.
Thanks to Mike C. for the tip...