The tech rumour mill can always be relied on to wake us from our weekend reverie. And gossip floating around this morning about Amazon’s plans to pull the trigger on a multi-billion dollar deal for Texas Instruments’ (TI) mobile chip arm is about as juicy as it gets.
Because if Amazon pulls this off, an area dominated by Apple, Qualcomm, Intel and Samsung could be shaken up beyond recognition. If anyone doubted Amazon’s smartphone ambitions before, they certainly shouldn’t now.
If this deal does work out, and at the moment neither side is willing to talk about it on the record, then Amazon could become a truly self-sustaining smartphone business.
It already uses TI’s chips in its budget Kindle Fire tablets, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine the same silicon featuring in an Amazon-backed smartphone, replete with easy access to the online retailer’s vast array of content.
The Kindle Fire hasn’t quite, ahem, fired the imagination on these shores, but surely an Amazon smartphone, a device which would have greater potential in the wider market, could become a hugely popular device.
It’s not hard to imagine using such a phone to easily download MP3s, access files and tracks from Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player, while using it as an e-reader with seamless access to the world-beating Kindle Store.
That Amazon could have control of its own chips would bring costs down long term and won’t leave it dependent on third parties when it comes to how its handset operates.
Apple has learned this lesson. And it’s something Samsung has been taking care of since it started getting serious about smartphones.
The big players know they need to be self-sustaining, which is surely the reason that Jeff Bezos has decided that this deal with TI is the way forward for Amazon. But what does this mean for rival smartphone makers? For now, not a lot.
Apple is surging ahead with the iPhone 5 despite a slew of bad press. Samsung is forging on with its Galaxy brand at a terrifying pace. But the speed at which the smartphone landscape can change is frightening.
This deal could act as the catalyst for a revolutionary device and whole new ecosystem, giving consumers wider choice and the chance to show off a new device which their friends haven’t got.
Amazon knows the smartphone space needs a gee-up after some so-so updates in 2012. Tying up with Texas Instruments could just be the move the whole industry has been crying out for.