In the past Amazon has tried its hand at getting its share of the smartphone market. It’s an obvious horizon for the Seattle based ecommerce giant because it speaks to their success with the Echo and Dot devices. If you can be at the centre of a consumer’s life with a decent device you can hook them into your other services too. An Amazon smartphone is a no-brainer. Amazon has a good track record here too. Just look at the Kindle in its various versions.
Amazon’s previous forays into the smartphone market, however, were not successful. We wrote about it back in 2015: Amazon Fire phone flop leads to lay offs. But Amazon’s boss Jeff Bezos isn’t afraid of failure and he’s always keen to have another go if he can see an opportunity. Indeed he’s said that he wants Amazon to be the “best place to fail”, speaking to his desire that to experiment and explore without fear is the best way to succeed.
Amazon has now made an investment in smartphones again. Tencent and Amazon have invested $300 million in Andy Rubin’s latest smartphone company Essential. Essential is yet to launch its its phone yet but it’s expected in the weeks to come, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Rubin will be familiar to industry boffins because he co-founded Android and then sold it to Google. The new Essential smartphone was revealed in May with shipping expected in June 2017. It is seemingly delayed and now it’s now likely to launch “in a few weeks” and will be sold by Amazon and Best Buy.
An Amazon smartphone would be an obvious addition to the Bezos arsenal and it’s by no means clear that this investment makes that aim any more likely. But clearly Amazon is eying up the potential and possibilities with what is, frankly, a rather modest investment. Watch this space.