After Hours

Is Amazon building a Kindle phone? The case for

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

...too much innovation in hardware or software. Amazon doesn't want to play that game - sorry, geeks. In any case, mobile innovation is so rapid that what is considered today's state of the art will become a low-end phone in a year or two's time.

So here's an idea. The Kindle Fire represents the entertainment side of Amazon's portfolio - consumption of books and movies - and has the screen size to encourage you to do just that.

Sure, a Kindle phone will be able to play music - don't forget Amazon's Cloud Player - as well as let you read and watch movies, if you really want to, too, but maybe the real lure of making a Kindle phone is the other side of Amazon's empire: shopping.

The smartphone is a natural companion when shopping - few people haven't Googled a product when out shopping to see if they can get it cheaper online, so why not position a Kindle phone as a digital shopping assistant, plugging into the retail side of Amazon's business?

There are a few obvious ways to make that happen: give the phone NFC and a barcode or QR code reader. Consumers out buying or browsing could just snap the code with their smartphone camera, allowing them to get product information in just a click or two. Suddenly, it's much easier to read reviews and compare prices online - and then perhaps decide to buy online too.

An Amazon smartphone potentially opens up a big new customer base for Amazon's e-tail offerings - although the speeds-and-feeds fans won't be happy.

Want a different point of view? Read silicon.com's Jo Best on why Amazon shouldn't get into the smartphone market here.

And what do you think? What would make you buy an Amazon smartphone? Let us know by posting a comment below.

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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