Amazon is expected to announce a new Kindle Fire tablet tomorrow, and if the latest rumors are true, they will also reveal an Android-based smartphone. Nilay Patel of The Verge is reporting that “multiple sources” have confirmed to him Amazon is “working on a smartphone that runs a variant of the Kindle Fire’s Android-based operating system.”
We heard similar rumors over a year ago, but Amazon has only released one Android-based device to date – the original Kindle Fire. Nilay goes on to speculate that Amazon’s smartphone will run a “forked version of Android 4.0″ and include Nokia Maps as the location service. No other details were revealed.
If Amazon does announce their own smartphone, expect it to be offered as an unlocked device. Even though Amazon Wireless sells a ton of locked devices through their online store, they have some pretty anti-locked language in their unlocked phone guide.
In response to the question “Why do carriers lock phones?”, Amazon says, “A locked cell phone benefits only the carrier by keeping a customer using their service. Unlocked phones give consumers more control of plans, pricing, and services and make carriers work for you.”
It’s possible that Amazon could still announce some partnership with AT&T or another carrier, but I don’t expect this device to be sold with a traditional two-year contract. Amazon still might choose to subsidize part of the price, but we believe it would be done through advertisements that were displayed on the phone’s lockscreen.
Overall, I’m pretty excited to see what Amazon has been working on all this time. Even if the device does not resemble Android one bit, it is nice to see a worthy competitor enter the arena and keep the other OEMs on their toes.
Check back tomorrow for the full scoop. Would you even consider an Android-based phone from Amazon if it didn’t include Google Play or Google’s other mobile services?