WSJ: Amazon Testing Smartphone

Amazon

Lorraine Luk:

Amazon.com Inc. is working with component suppliers in Asia to test a smartphone, people familiar with the situation said, suggesting that the Internet retail giant, which sells the Kindle Fire tablet computers, is considering broadening its mobile-device offerings.

Officials at some of Amazon’s parts suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Seattle-based company is testing a smartphone and mass production of the new device may start late this year or early next year.

[…]One person said that the screen of Amazon’s smartphone currently being tested measures between four and five inches.

Thus, with nary a moment of hesitation, the Wall Street Journal has confirmed last week’s Bloomberg report.

With regard to the oft-rumored Amazon phone itself, the sole element of concern I have for Amazon’s future as a hardware manufacturer resides with its use (or misuse) of its own Lab126 division. Lab126 has held the responsibility for the entirety of Amazon’s e-ink Kindle line — both in terms of hardware and software — since its inception. With the Kindle Fire, however, Amazon evidently viewed its entry into the tablet space as less of an investment and more of an experiment, thereby foregoing thorough Lab126 development.

Considering the Kindle Fire sits atop Amazon’s all time best-selling products, I would imagine the experiment has proceeded rather successfully. Thus, with the viability of an Amazon-branded tablet in mind, it seems fair to presume that Amazon’s forthcoming sequel to the Kindle Fire will be developed internally. With Lab126 developing the entirety of the product equation, my general inclination would broach cautious optimism for the impending tablet — much more than I would’ve otherwise.

For all of this, with rumors swirling around the shrouded Amazon phone, I simply wish to express my sincere hope that Amazon does not repeat its Kindle Fire strategy. Amazon could easily adopt a basic hardware chassis — much like it did with the BlackBerry PlayBook’s enclosure for the Kindle Fire — and shoehorn its software into this environment. Problematically, however, such an endeavor is half-baked at best.

Heaping further concern onto the already significant pile, if the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are to be believed, Amazon is shopping around in the Asian technology market for this product. Although this may well be for manufacturing purposes, the alternate possibility is that Amazon is embarking upon a similarly experimental project to the Kindle Fire. Lab126 is not mentioned in either article.

For the technology industry, June, 2012 marked a tidal shift in the binding developmental process beneath the marketplace. Both Microsoft and Google disregarded precedence in their respective niches within the tablet space and sought to develop their own hardware and software internally. Considering Amazon is working with its own off-brand version of Android, the commerce giant would do well to observe such a shift and embrace such a fundamental tenet of the newfound industrial hardware strategy.

Reuters: Front-Lit Kindle to Launch in July

Kindle Touch

Nivedita Bhattacharjee for Reuters:

Amazon.com Inc will launch new versions of its Kindle e-reader and tablet, including a monochrome e-reader with front lighting, a source who has seen the prototype told Reuters.

I had thought Amazon would’ve adhered to its established hardware revision cycle with little regard to B&N’s products, but it seems I was wrong.

Although B&N may not be an enormous threat in and of itself, Microsoft’s purchase of the Nook division, coupled with the evident brick and mortar retail aversion to Amazon hardware, makes for a somewhat problematic situation for the Seattle-based giant.

As I always say, competition is certainly not a bad thing.

Amazon Posts $13.18 Billion Revenue for Q1 2012

Amazon

Leena Rao reports for Techcrunch:

Amazon just reported earnings for the first quarter of 2012. Net sales increased 34% to $13.18 billion in the first quarter, compared with $9.86 billion in first quarter 2011. Net income decreased 35% to $130 million in the first quarter, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared with net income of $201 million, or $0.44 per diluted share, in first quarter 2011. The company beat Wall Street expectations; analysts expected a profit of $0.07 per share on revenue of $12.9 billion for the quarter.

As with Apple, Amazon has utterly shattered Wall Street predictions, thus further undermining the clairvoyance of various analysts.

Jeff Bezos, above many of his peers, has demonstrated an acute awareness of what it takes to succeed in the current technological climate. With heavy re-investment in recent years, Wall Street analysts have been quick to point out low profits and high expenditure, but few have taken a moment to consider the long-term ramifications of such maneuvering.

Thanks to Mr. Bezos’ ability, Amazon has built a competitive, growing, and stable infrastructure, thereby ensuring business growth for the future. While this may have shaken the confidence of various near-sighted analysts from time to time, the fact is that Amazon is doing very well.

Unlike the vast majority of technology mainstays, Amazon appears to be one of the most aspirational, driven, and promising companies on the market. Built upon sound ideals, good business, and an avid penchant for infrastructural investment, the future looks good for the Seattle-based retailer.

Although income is down, I tend not to view this as a sign of things to come. The retail market is volatile, particularly once the Western holiday season has passed. Given the quantity of re-investment into the company’s framework, I expect Amazon to unveil plenty of income-generating initiatives in the near future. I do not wish to sound like an apologist but, Bezos’ evident business acumen in mind, I find it difficult to feel pessimistic about Amazon’s prospects.

As I’ve said before, competition is a very good thing and, I imagine, Amazon is going to continue to encroach on some otherwise steadfast marketplaces in the coming years.

Amazon’s press release is available here.

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight Official

Nook

Following some last-minute rumors earlier this week, Barnes & Noble has confirmed the impending arrival of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. Available in early May for $139, the front-lit display adds a $40 premium to the existing e-ink line, but utterly reshapes the use case scenarios for the average e-reading consumer.

As I said earlier this week, I look forward to experimenting with the hardware in person. The Nook Simple Touch, as it stands, is a thoroughly compelling e-reader and, coupled with such a versatile display, I imagine it will cause many to reconsider purchasing a Kindle in the lead-up to the summer.

Unless Amazon hurries its front-lit counterpart out of the factory in the coming weeks, that is.

The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is available for preorder here.

Nook Simple Touch with "GlowLight" Leaked

Nook GlowLight

Nathan Ingraham reports for The Verge:

We heard a few days ago that Amazon was readying a Kindle with a front-lit, E ink screen — now it appears that Barnes & Noble is ready to do the same thing with the Nook. The Digital Reader has just posted an image of what appears to be a Nook Simple Touch with a front-lit E ink screen that Barnes & Noble has dubbed “GlowLight.” While this is by no means guaranteed yet, these images do look fairly authentic, and these details corroborate an earlier report from The Ebook Reader. It sounds like the Nook will use a similar technology to what was described as being used on the next Kindle — a thin layer that covers the entire screen and evenly distributes light across it. While we’re not sure when we’ll see the latest Nook hardware, it wouldn’t surprise us to hear something very soon considering the info that’s starting to leak out.

In the past few weeks, due to a rather excessive amount of travel, I’ve repeatedly butted heads with the Kindle Touch’s lack of light. In most scenarios, purely for the sake of sanity and ease of use, I’ve accordingly gravitated toward the iPad for the vast majority of my reading.

Although the iPad doesn’t quite measure up to the quality of reading on an e-ink device, the ability to read without bounds is a liberating and important piece of functionality to boast. Rumors have indicated some sort of front-lit screen is making its way into the Kindle line but, as is the trend, it seems Barnes & Noble is going to beat them to it.

I actually have a Nook Simple Touch on my desk for testing. When held together with my Kindle, I’ve read comparably little on it but, having said that, I tend to think the device is actually superior in several respects.

Thus, if a Nook does materialize in the coming weeks boasting “GlowLight,” I feel rather confident that I’ll be keenly visiting a Barnes & Noble to test it out.