Amazon just rolled out a full-fledged tablet. Next year, says Citigroup's research department, it could have its own phone. Here's the topline from analyst Mark Mahaney's newest note:
"Based on our supply chain channel checks in Asia led by Kevin Chang, Citi's Taipei-based hardware research analyst, we believe an Amazon Smartphone will be launched in 4Q12. Based on our supply chain check, we believe FIH is now jointly developing the phone with Amazon. However, we believe that Amazon will pay NRE (non-recurring engineering fees) to FIH but the device and multiple components will actually be manufactured by Hon Hai's TMS business group (the same business group that makes Amazon's E-reader and the 8.9" Amazon tablet). We believe the smartphone will adopt Texas Instrument's OMAP 4 processor and is very likely to adopt QCOM's dual mode 6-series standalone baseband given QCOM has been a long-time baseband supplier for Amazon's E-reader."
Mahaney and his team guess that Amazon's phone may cost it $150 to $170 to build, and it's conceivable that the company will sell it for something close to that price: "For a normal brand like HTC, they need to price the product at US$243 to make 30% gross margin. If Amazon is actually willing to lose some money on the device, the price gap could be even bigger."
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 that Amazon will need to pay Microsoft an "OS royalty" -- Microsoft has recently been able to extract royalty payments from other Android hardware partners.
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