When rumors of an Amazon-branded smartphone started to hit the internet, the mysterious device was mentioned in the same breath as HTC. It was apparently going to be up to HTC to manufacture the Fire Phone for Amazon, but as we all know, the eCommerce giant went their own way. Why was that? Was it just a wild rumor that HTC were to create the ‘Amazon Phone’? Well, according to new reports, HTC and Amazon were pretty close to sealing the deal, but then big bad AT&T got in the way and ruined everything. So, just what happened?
According to The Information, whose sources have said that HTC was all set to create the Fire Phone, but AT&T was unhappy with the terms. For this story, we need to go back in time a little, to the Kindle Fire HD and HDX line, both of which have 4G capability…only on AT&T. In case it wasn’t obvious enough, Ma Bell and Amazon are fairly close to each other, so when they heard that they wouldn’t get exclusivity of Amazon’s new toy, things apparently got a little messy. According to sources, AT&T threatened to cut support for the higher-end models of the Kindle Fire if they weren’t able to exclusively offer the Fire Phone. As such, Amazon’s hand was forced and the deal between them and HTC fell through.
The deal with HTC and Amazon was so close, that there’s word of informal talks for Amazon to buy HTC, which would of course have changed things quite dramatically over time. Still, Ma Bell weren’t happy to lose out on an exclusive, which doesn’t really make much sense. Carrier exclusives are quite frankly a bad idea, the HTC First showed as much recently (which may have had something to do with AT&T’s objections). People don’t want want to swap networks just to get a hold of a new smartphone, not since the days of the iPhone have we had exclusives like the Fire Phone and the First and with the poor response Amazon’s new toy is getting, it seems like both Ma Bell and the online giant took the wrong path here. Today, you can get an HTC One (M8), or a Galaxy S5, or LG’s G3 on whatever carrier you damn well please, and people have come to expect as much.
There’s no way of telling if these reports are true of course, we expect that HTC, Amazon and AT&T will never comment on the situation, but it sure seems like something a big carrier would do. This is just another example of where carriers like AT&T need to wise up and understand that the market is changing. Smartphones are a big part of our lives now, and people don’t expect to jump through a telco’s hoops anymore.