updated 06:09 pm EDT, Fri September 6, 2013
New device allegedly in production for two years
According to reports today, Amazon is attempting to make its long-rumored smartphone free when it becomes available. Details are sparse at the moment, but Amazon seems to want to not charge for the phone regardless of contract details, and likely requiring an $80 annual subscription to Amazon Prime.
The report and detailed analysis surfaced on Jessica Lessin's webpage, a former tech writer for the Wall Street Journal. The move is similar, but not identical, to Amazon's Kindle Fire line sold at (or as man suspect, below) production and distribution cost to serve as a platform for consumption of media sold by Amazon. Some older smartphones are "sold" for free, in conjunction with a two-year contract from a wireless carrier.
Any "free" deal for a future Amazon-branded phone would meet with significant resistance from the market and the device manufacturers. Some sort of deal with whoever may be making the likely Android-based phone would have to be negotiated, perhaps giving the manufacturer a part of the profits generated from the media buys associated with the phone.