- CitiGroup analyst: Amazon is working on a phone
- The phone will be released in 2012, the analyst says
- CNN has not confirmed the news and Amazon has not commented
Amazon is rumored to be making a phone.
Citing checks of the company's supply chain, an analyst at Citigroup has issued a memo saying the phone may cost less than $200 and likely will be available in the middle of next year, according to multiple news reports in financial publications.
"With the clear success of the Kindle e-Reader over the past 3 years, and Kindle Fire possibly succeeding in the low-priced tablet market, we view this as the next logical step for Amazon," the investor's note said, according to a report in Reuters.
The blog AllThingsD says it's likely the phone would run Google's Android operating system:
"(Mark) Mahaney's note doesn't spell out that the phone will use Google's Android operating system, but it suggests that will be the case by positing that Amazon will need to pay Microsoft an 'OS royalty' -- Microsoft has recently been able to extract royalty payments from other Android hardware partners."
Of course, all of this is completely speculative, and based on one report from one analyst. Amazon did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment on Friday morning, and no on knows for sure if the company is working on a phone.
But it's interesting to tech journalists and investors in part because Amazon is creeping further from its roots as an e-commerce website and into new areas of technology, including hardware development.
The company's Kindle e-reader has been a hit for years, and Amazon this week put its new tablet, the Kindle Fire, on the market for $200. Reviewers say the Kindle Fire isn't amazing -- not as functional as the iPad -- but they're generally impressed with it given its much-lower price.
The Apple iPad sells for $500 to $830.
The Amazon phone would cost the company $150 to $170 to make, and Amazon -- always one to offer low prices, even when it loses money on a sale -- likely would offer the phone for close to that price, Peter Kafka writes at AllThingsD.
Still, all of this buzz about an Amazon phone raises a larger question:
Would you want to buy it?
This is completely anecdotal, but when Mike Elgan, a Silicon Valley tech columnist, asked this question of his followers on Google+ he got back plenty of "no's."
Some of the responses from his followers:
"I don't even know how well their tablet works, much less an OS for the phone."
"Something that belongs on +The Onion news network :)"
"Amazon is going in the wrong direction."
Others were more enthusiastic, if the price is right.
"$150 with no contract required would be an awesome deal, especially for the 40% or so of people that don't have a smart phone. my father in law wants an iPhone but not the data plan fee."