Amazon Eyed Overseas Markets in Smartphone Talks

As Amazon prepares to launch its long-awaited smartphone, opportunities in non-U.S. markets loom large.

Amazon executives last spring held talks with possible hardware partners that included detailed discussions on strategies for China and European markets, according to a confidential document produced by a potential partner and two people who were involved in discussions with the Seattle e-commerce giant. Earlier discussions also involved Latin America, says another person involved in them.

The phone, which was referred to as “Project Aria” in discussions with one potential partner last year, is likely to go on sale this year.

The discussions of overseas markets don’t mean that Amazon intends to neglect the U.S., which accounts for about two-thirds of the company’s sales. Amazon was looking to seal deals with multiple carriers in the U.S. as well, according to the confidential document and one of the people involved in the discussions.

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As of about a year ago, Amazon executives were interested in building a phone with a five-inch HD display,  a plastic back cover, 16 gigabytes of storage and a 2300 mAh battery, which is similar to the one in the Google Nexus 5 smartphone, according to the confidential document. It’s likely that the ultimate Amazon smartphone would have upgraded specifications, but the company is determined to keep the phone at a small fraction of the iPhone’s $550-and-up price tag.


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Amazon approached Google last year about including the Google Play store and apps like Google Maps on its devices.