Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is reportedly building a new phone based on the Android mobile operating system. Reports citing “two sources familiar with the matter” say that Amazon is quietly developing a new smartphone being referred to as ‘Ice’ internally, though it’s not clear if Amazon will eventually market the devices under the Ice name.
The new smartphone would run Android 7.1.1 and come with Google’s AI Assistant, said a source cited above. Purported specs include a 5.2-inch or 5.5-inch screen, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 13MP camera. The phone will also house a Snapdragon 435 SoC and a fingerprint scanner on the back. Alexa, Amazon’s AI-powered digital assistant, could make it to the device by the time of launch.
Amazon’s last attempt to break into the mobile market, the Fire Phone, was widely considered a flop. The Fire Phone launched in 2014 in an attempt to take on Android and Apple’s iOS. The phone venture ultimately cost Amazon hundreds of million dollars.
The ecommerce giant killed off the Fire Phone in 2015 after reportedly selling under 35,000 units. The company said it had sold all Fire Phone inventory and that it wouldn’t be “replenishing the stock.”
Amazon isn’t the same company it was when it released the Fire Phone and its understanding of its customers is getting better all the time. Amazon likely has detailed information on how the Fire Phone was used, and how it wasn’t, so it will know what worked and what didn’t. For example, the new smartphones would have access to the full line of Google services and apps, including the Play Store. The lack of Google apps on the Fire Phone emerged as a deal-breaker for many.
The Ice phone would reportedly be a low-end device aimed at India and other emerging markets. The device is likely to come with Amazon apps pre-installed, helping the company build its user base in emerging markets. Amazon is increasingly looking at new areas for expansion and has committed more than $5 billion in investment to the India market. However, the phones will be competing with an army of Chinese manufacturers operating on razor-thin margins in that market.