TechRadar's Amazon Phone wish list
We at TechRadar aren't immune to the charms of an Amazon Phone, even if it does only exist in the imaginations of analysts and tech bloggers at the moment.
That's where this wish list of Amazon Phone features came from, as well, after all.
On the list are such far-fetched notions as an at-cost Amazon Phone price point, something that's basically been assumed all along, as well as slick cloud and streaming integration, a refreshed app store, exclusive shopping discounts, and killer hardware features like NFC.
Whether any of that will actually come to fruition - or whether the Amazon truly even exists or really is just a figment of a thousand overactive imaginations - will be seen only when Amazon decides to step out of the shadows and into the firelight.
Here are 10 things we'd like to see in the Amazon phone, in order for it to make a dent in the smartphone space.
1. Discount the Amazon phone price
Amazon was willing to sell Kindles at a loss in order to grow the device's base from zero to hero.
Just how far is the online retail giant willing to go to cut the Amazon phone price in order to entice customers?
It's hard to justify a brand-new smartphone purchase at non-contract prices. What can Amazon do to sweeten the deal for upgraders and off-upgraders alike?
2. Tie in services
It goes without saying, but Amazon's going to have to do a superb job integrating its cloud storage, web-based MP3 service, and streaming video collection into a phone.
These service gems all sound like familiar offerings from Google, Apple, or Microsoft: To be different, Amazon has to raise the bar with what it offers (more storage!) or how it allows users to interact with its other services.
3. Play nice
We get it. Amazon wants to use Google's operating system as the base for its phone (or so the rumors go), but Amazon doesn't want to allow users to easily tap into Google's goods and services.
Competition is fair.
But, please, for the sake of usability - don't just throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Amazon might not like Google Play, but that doesn't mean it has to ditch every Google-branded app out there, especially if they exist in a market that Amazon doesn't play in (Maps?)
4. Update the appstore for Android
Sorry, Amazon. Your appstore leaves a lot to be desired.
Refresh the interface, quicken it up, allow users to more easily navigate through apps that they might want to try out, and consider adding some social features to help one's friends recommend diamond apps in the rough.
Or, feature weekly rotating lists of must-have apps that are worth downloading based on editor feedback, not just because they're inexpensive.
5. Integrated discounts
Free apps. Amazon's Gold Box. Shipping discounts for Amazon Prime members. Affiliates.
There's a lot of magic surrounding many of Amazon's core services and cold, hard cash.
Amazon, extend these options to your phone.
Court larger developers to offer better free applications.
Offer rolling discounts for apps (people actually want to use) in special time-limited sales that you tease throughout the week.
Allow users to make money by recommending apps to their friends, colleagues, and peers.
Bring the mercantile magic of Amazon dot com into Amazon Phone (or whatever it'll be called).
6. Primed for Prime
Here's the big one: What benefit do Prime subscribers get if they pick up an Amazon phone?
Big discount? Increased access to services (like streaming video)? More storage space?
Prime is Amazon's big change to sell its phone on the cheap and incentivize owners to pay more, annually, for a more exclusive slice of Amazon's pie.
Make the bonuses killer, and you've just locked in a user for an extra $160 (or so) over the course of a two-year contract.
7. Ignore exclusivity, choose and stick to a release date
Well, for carriers at least. Nothing would hurt Amazon more in its quest to establish a foothold in the smartphone market than allying itself with a single carrier - worse, a carrier that isn't the top in the market for good ol' 4G LTE service.
Amazon needs to capitalize on its brand recognition and, as the saying goes, "go big or go home."
Pick one chip that supports GSM and CDMA for non-4G LTE service and allow customers to switch carriers without hassle (unlock that phone!)
And as far as a Amazon phone release date, pick one and stick to it. Don't keep it pushing it back like other carriers.
Think worldly, Amazon.
8. Consider prepaid plans
The big buzzword today is "prepaid" smartphones, but the concept does come with a bit of hassle – the smartphones cost a bit more, might not be as good as some of the top-shelf items you can purchase, and prepaid providers just don't have as good of a reach as the cellular industry's big guns.
If Amazon were to somehow flex its clout and get the main carriers to work more harmoniously with prepaid service plans (or the smaller carriers that support them)… that would be quite an eye-opener, wouldn't it?
9. Amazon phone specs need killer hardware
It goes without saying (again), but Amazon might not want to slink into the smartphone market with a low- to medium-powered device.
You can't just Kindle Fire your way into the market from absolutely nothing. To make a dent, Amazon will have to make a splash.
It's unclear how Amazon would go up against some of the market's leading manufactures and their speedier, faster, larger, and more feature-packed devices (that release on a more consistent timeframe).
But there's a little thing called the iPhone 5 that's going to start capturing a lot of attention as we inch closer to the end of the year.
Amazon needs to capture the buzz with, quite simply, a "cooler" phone.
10. NFC for you and me
Amazon's an online shopping powerhouse.
So, turn the phone into a powerhouse shopping device: Give users a super-easy method for comparing what they're looking at against products in Amazon's database to determine whether they're getting the best possible deal.
Or, better yet, incentivize users who price match with their devices by giving them a small discount on Amazon.com purchases itself.
Help users remember what to buy and where to buy it (if not from Amazon).
Tie in Amazon's reviewing service so users can recommend, on the fly, Amazon-hosted alternatives for items they might want to buy.
And then there's the biggie: Tie NFC payments to one's Amazon account and allow users to pay for products using their phones, not their wallets.
Transform the offline shopping experience with a smartphone the same way you transformed the online shopping experience with Amazon's.