Amazon smartphone dubbed ‘Project Aria’ to launch this year?

By Alexandra Burlacu | Mar 14, 2014 07:54 AM EDT

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Amazon has long been rumored to be working on a smartphone and new information now claims the purported handset may hit the market this year.

The rumored Amazon smartphone has mostly stayed in the shadows since last year. The latest bit of information we had heard until now was that HTC would be making the device for Amazon, but nothing was confirmed. Very little details are currently available regarding this purported handset, but a new report now suggests that it may finally see the light of day this year.

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According to a recent report from The Information, Amazon is looking to unleash its upcoming smartphone not only in the U.S., but also in other markets. The effort is apparently called "Project Aria" - not to be confused with "Project Ara," which refers to Google's modular smartphone concept. The publication notes that Amazon is still in talks with a number of overseas partners to launch its smartphone.

"Amazon executives last spring held talks with possible hardware partners that included detailed discussions on strategies for China and European markets, according to a confidential document produced by a potential partner and two people who were involved in discussion with the Seattle e-commerce giant. Earlier discussions also involved Latin America, says another person involved in them," The Information reveals in its report.

"The phone, which was referred to as 'Project Aria' in discussions with one potential partner last year, is likely to go on sale this year. The discussions of overseas markets don't mean that Amazon intends to neglect the U.S., which accounts for about two-thirds of the company's sales. Amazon was looking to seal deals with multiple carriers in the U.S. as well, according to the confidential document and one of the people involved in the discussions."

Amazon has been facing some difficulties recently, as it reported disappointing performance that missed analysts' expectations for the holiday quarter. While nothing is confirmed at this point, entering the smartphone market with its own device may bring Amazon a new source of revenue. On the other hand, the smartphone market is already highly-competitive, and it remains to be seen whether a new player can make it.

Currently there are no details available regarding what hardware this purported Amazon smartphone would sport, but in terms of software the handset is expected to run a forked version of Android, just like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. As always, however, take all unconfirmed news with a grain of salt.



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