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Is Amazon building a Kindle phone? The case for

Amazon should build a smartphone - so geeks will hate it...

If Amazon really is working on a smartphone, here's a few ideas for what it might want to include, says silicon.com editor Steve Ranger.

If Amazon does build a smartphone, it ought to be a phone that geeks will love to hate.

Let me explain. There's been plenty of speculation about why Amazon would be working on a smartphone, following a research note from Citigroup which claims the books-to-cloud giant is developing an Android smartphone that will launch at the end of next year.

The news has sparked much debate on why Amazon would want to waste its time getting into a commodity market, and one already awash with cheap Android handsets at that. To me, that's missing the point. A quick look at Amazon's history illustrates that the company has always had the big prize in mind: leaping from books to retail, to cloud computing and now hardware - and that's how we need to look at the smartphone rumours.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon's Kindle Fire has only been out a week and already it's the most wanted tablet after the iPadPhoto: Amazon

Take Amazon's recently released Kindle Fire tablet: at $199, it's very much at the budget end of the market, with specs to match - no camera, no GPS, limited storage. No match for some of the more high-end tablets out there.

Except, of course, that those high-end tablets will sit in stores gathering dust, while the Kindle Fire sells by the truckload.

From a geek point of view that's not fair - that the most spanking-hot product with the best specs loses out to something less powerful - but that's because focusing on the specs is ignoring the bigger issue.

Amazon - like Apple - knows consumers don't really care about specs. Geeks care about specs, and having better, faster processors and the latest operating systems. But ordinary consumers don't - they care about the practicalities. It's no good having the best TV with the most fantastic display and a gold-plated remote control, if it can't pick up any channels.

What makes the Fire so attractive - out only a week and it's the most wanted tablet after the iPad, according to one report - is the price, and the ecosystem. Thanks to Amazon's online store replete with digital entertainment, when you buy a Fire, you have a use case built in. When consumers buy a Fire, they already know what to do with it - read books, watch movies - and Amazon can sell you them both.

So if Amazon is working on a phone, then I'd suggest you shouldn't expect...

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

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