Amazon is planning on releasing a smartphone at the end of 2012, according to Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney.It makes sense since Amazon already has a mobile operating system, and it’s diving head first into the tablet space.
However, unless it makes some serious leaps in software quality, it’s going to be absolutely clobbered in the smartphone space.
The reason the Kindle Fire can make a dent in the tablet space is that it’s charging just $200. For $200, consumers are willing to forgive a lot of the bugs in the Kindle Fire.
It’s not going to have that advantage in the smartphone space.
Apple offers a free iPhone on AT&T, and by next year it could have a free phone on Verizon as well. If you don’t like the iPhone, you can get an Android phones for free. Or a BlackBerry, or a Windows Phone.
Maybe Amazon is going to pay people to take its phone?
It would have to because the Kindle Fire software is pretty crappy. It’s sluggish and jumpy. The native applications are basically non-existent: No native calender or maps. There’s an email app, but it stinks. Amazon has some third-party applications, but not that many. There’s no Twitter, or Facebook app available for the Kindle Fire.
Granted, this is version 1.0, so we’re willing to cut it some slack. We’re sure Amazon is going to iterate and improve its software.
But, it’s going to have to work really hard to catch up to Apple, Google, and Microsoft. And it’s not like those guys are sitting still. They’re making improvements at an absurd rate.
The biggest question Amazon will have to answer for a consumer is: What does a Kindle Phone do that Microsoft, Google, and Apple don’t?
Better media consumption? With the Netflix app available across all platforms, it’s hard to argue Amazon streaming is better. With iTunes at Apple, the Google Music store, Zune for Microsoft, and Spotify across all platforms, it’s also hard to see music being better at Amazon.
We have nothing but respect for Jeff Bezos, so we’re sure he’s thought all of this through. But, we’ll be stunned if Amazon’s phone makes a dent in the market in the next three years.