What is Amazon’s ‘bigger than Kindle’ mystery product? Here's a look at the candidates
Amazon's got a new device up its sleeve.
A recruitment advertisement has indicated the Seattle-based company is developing a "revolutionary" product that will be "bigger than Kindle". It will also "deliver digital media" and "disrupt the current marketplace". That's a lot of hopes piled on one device. So, what is it?
What that product will do or what category it will fit into hasn't been revealed. So speculation is high. To help get to the bottom of this mystery, Pocket-lint has compiled a rumour round-up of potential candidates.
Everything you want or need to know about Amazon's latest crop of hardware rumours is spelt out below. We've even considered some of the far-out products currently on Amazon's road map. Although we can't say for sure what Amazon is working on, this should definitely get your interest piqued (if it isn't already).
Rumours about an Amazon-branded handset have continually popped up in recent years. It's well-known that Amazon and HTC, for instance, are working on a line of Android handsets that'll supposedly launch in 2014. However, other rumours have claimed that Amazon and Foxconn Technology Group also worked on a smartphone in 2012. The Kindle-branded device was supposedly meant to serve up Amazon Prime content.
The hearsay doesn't end with Foxconn, though. Word slipped out via DigiTimes in October 2013 that Amazon was partnering with compact camera manufacturers Primax, Liteon and Sunny Optical for advanced sensors that would allow 3D gesture and eye-tracking control in its first smartphone due in the second quarter of 2014.
The smartphone will supposedly boast six compact camera modules, four of which are VGA cameras that'll sit along the device's four corners, enabling highly accurate 3D-gesture and eye-tracking control. There will also be a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and a huge 12-megapixel front-facing camera.
Other rumoured specs include a 3D display, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, and 4.7-inch display. While all that sounds fine and dandy, it's important to remember that Amazon emphasised its bigger-than-Kindle device will allow it to deliver digital media to customers "in new ways and disrupt the current marketplace."
Amazon's recruitment invite seemed to hint at a new, revolutionary and innovative device rather than a smartphone. A Kindle smartphone, even if it's decked out with 3D capabilities, would be unlikely to deliver digital media in new ways. And it certainly would have to be revolutionary in order to dethrone Samsung from the No. 1 spot in the Android handset marketplace.
Cinnamon set-top box
Reports first claimed in April 2013 that Amazon was developing a set-top box that could stream video over the internet.
The device, reportedly born under Amazon's Lab126 division, was meant to rival Apple TV, Roku and Google TV, and Bloomberg said it would launch in autumn 2013. That timeframe has now passed and still, rumours persist.
The Wall Street Journal claimed Amazon's set-top box would be available for purchase during the run-up to Christmas 2013 so that children and adults alike could wake up and see a shiny, new video-streaming device under their trees. That didn't happen.
Beyond release-date nonsense, The Wall Street Journal revealed the device's platform would give the other set-top boxes a run for their money. Previously assumed to be a vehicle for the Amazon Prime video service, Amazon's set-top box will reportedly have third-party apps and content from a variety of sources.
Amazon has allegedly met with developers about designing streaming media apps and games for the device, which currently goes by the codename Cinnamon. Those developers apparently had a mid-October deadline. That is, until AllThingsD claimed Amazon won't launch its foray into the living room until 2014.
Amazon is now aiming for spring 2014. Other details, like price, haven't been reported. But if Amazon's job ad is indeed about a set-top box, we will know all the details in the coming months. After all, an Amazon set-top box would deliver digital media, and, if developed well enough, could disrupt the marketplace.
Android gaming console
There hasn't been much talk about this as of late, but reports claimed in August 2013 that Amazon was working an Android-based console that would release by Black Friday (29 November). Like the Amazon set-top box, that didn't happen.
The Amazon console was supposed to include a controller and work with Amazon's digital library of Android apps. Amazon even showed off this bundle to an anonymous developer, though equally anonymous sources told various publications such as GameBeat that they weren't sure if Amazon considered the game console a serious product.
There's not much else to go on here. It's clear however that such a console would directly rival other Android-based consoles like Kickstarter darling Ouya, Mad Catz M.O.J.O., and BlueStacks GamePop. With such heavy competition, Amazon would really need to raise the stakes in order to disrupt the marketplace. It might even sport a forked version of Android, much like its Kindle line of eReaders.
Prime Air drones
We don't really think a drone is Amazon's mystery, bigger-than-Kindle device, but it's worth considering in a rumour round-up. Especially because Amazon itself revealed in December 2013 that it was testing Prime Air drones that can deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes after orders are placed.
Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, said on CBS's 60 Minutes that Amazon had developed prototypes of autonomous drones that can deliver a 5lb package up to 10 miles away from an Amazon warehouse. Amazon has 96 warehouses scattered across the US.
Bezos said the drones could take to the air within the next few years, though the US Federal Aviation Administration hasn't approved their official use yet. In fact, the FAA can't even change its regulations to accommodate the drones until 2015 at the earliest, according to Bezos. So, for now, Amazon is still testing the reliability and safety of its drones.
Amazon's mystery device is in the development stage and will be able to deliver digital media. Although Amazon's drones are in testing and can make deliveries, it seems unlikely that Amazon is talking about them. Autonomous drones can certainly deliver media, but we're safely assuming they'll carry physical orders rather than digital.
And that's it. If you have any other ideas as to what Amazon is currently working on, let us know in the comments below.