Amazon is scaling back on making new consumer hardware

Amazon Fire Phone

Major changes are reported afoot in Amazon's hardware efforts. Several projects are said to be on hold, while the company's first, failed attempt at breaking into the smartphone market may have been its last.

The e-commerce company is in the midst of restructuring its hardware efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports, resulting in the layoff of dozens of engineers from its secretive hardware division, Lab126, which was responsible for the Fire Phone.

News broke in late 2014 that the e-commerce giant was at work on a successor to the Fire Phone. This was surprising not only because the experimental phone reportedly cost Amazon $170 million in losses, but also since CEO Jeff Bezos admitted the phone was a failure, albeit a "smart" one.

Alas, Amazon no longer thought it very smart to push on with the smartphone project.

Hardware holdout

Aside from laying off an undisclosed amount of engineers, the WSJ reports that Amazon is scaling back its hardware efforts. Several projects have been put on hold, including a tablet with a much larger screen, as well as a product that aimed to be a high-end computer for the kitchen (not quite sure how well that one would have done, anyway).

The Fire Phone negatively impacted morale in Lab126, but that's not to say the hardware development center didn't have its share of successes. Actually, it had quite a few of them, like the Kindle and its many models and tablet variations, as well as the Fire TV set-top box, and more recently, the innovative Amazon Echo and quirky Dash Buttons.

It's highly doubtful that this move will translate into Amazon fully bowing-out of producing hardware. Kindles will continue to be made and, if anything, a re-evaluation might be just what it needs if we're to see another Fire Phone.

But even as much as we would like for Amazon to take another crack at making a smartphone, the smartphone industry, as it stands, is carrying on just fine without it.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.