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Amazon May Have Fired the Fire Phone Team, But They’re Hiring Elsewhere (Videos)

6737143553_9585cd47af_bAmazon is sending mixed messages of late about its hardware projects.  On the one hand, we have leaked reports of mass layoffs, while on the other hand I have also uncovered recruitment videos.

The WSJ broke the layoff news yesterday, reporting that:

flamed out with critics and consumers last year in its first attempt at a smartphone. Now, rather than forge ahead, as it has with other projects, such as its Kindle tablets, the online retailer is retrenching.

In recent weeks Amazon has dismissed dozens of engineers who worked on its Fire phone at Lab126, its secretive hardware-development center in Silicon Valley, according to people familiar with the matter.

The layoffs were the first in the division’s 11-year history, these people said. But the precise toll on its roughly 3,000-person staff couldn’t be learned, in part because Amazon typically requires employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for severance payments.

The layoffs should not be generalized to imply that all of Amazon’s hardware efforts are facing cutbacks, because Amazon is also actively recruiting employees for its other divisions.

Over the past few months Amazon has been posting videos on Youtube which highlight the work of various parts of the company.

There’s a bunch of videos on Lab126, as well as videos for Ivona (Poland, TTS), Evi (UK, voice recognition for Alexa/Echo), and the Kindle EU team.

There was also a promo video for Amazon’s screen tech sub, Liquavista:

When that video was first noticed a couple weeks back, it caused a flurry of speculation. Many at Mobileread wondered whether it was a sign that Amazon was about to do something wonderful with Liquavista screens.

Given that this is but one video in a series, I don’t think we can draw that conclusion, but it is a sign that Amazon hasn’t forgotten the screent ech company they bought in 2013.

Speaking of speculation, here’s a rumor I didn’t really expect to come true.

Buried in the WSJ story on the Fire Phone team layoffs were a couple brief mentions of other devices that Amazon has under development which Amazon may have culled along with the Fire Phone.

It seems Amazon has an iPen prototype in the works, as well as a larger tablet:

Amazon has also halted or scaled back other development projects, according to people familiar with the situation, including a smart stylus internally called Nitro, which translates a users’ scribblings into digital shopping lists; a device dubbed Shimmer for projecting images on walls and other surfaces; and a tablet code-named Project Cairo, with a 14-inch screen.

That Project Cairo tablet sounds an awful lot like the 12″ tablet rumor that Digitimes reported earlier this week. True, the screen sizes are different, but there’s a high probability that a team working on a plus-sized tablet would be experimenting with several screen sizes with the goal of shipping a single model.

Alas, it doesn’t look like we’re going to see that Project Cairo tablet any time soon.

image  by kodomut

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fjtorres August 27, 2015 um 9:20 am

Smart move on the large tablet front: that is not a good market to get into right now, considering that Win10 is rewriting the "PC is dead" meme.

Feda August 27, 2015 um 9:55 am

Widows 10 is killing Windows with enthusiasts and those who value privacy and data security. Widows 10 is nothing by one big piece of spyware. PC will live on but with other operating systems.

Nate Hoffelder August 27, 2015 um 10:04 am

Yes, the Win10 news is getting worse and worse, isn’t it?

And to top things off, the terms in the Win10 license suggest that MS plans to charge a subscription for Win10 when the first year is up.

Tim F. August 27, 2015 um 10:18 am

"[He] writes for a site that regularly posts crap sourced from Digitimes. That renders the entire site a suspect source in my mind, but more importantly I decline to waste my tme digging to find the good stuff."

fjtorres August 27, 2015 um 10:36 am

I assume that is sarcasm, Nate?

Nate Hoffelder August 27, 2015 um 10:41 am

I was going for humor, not sarcasm.

fjtorres August 27, 2015 um 10:49 am

Sarcasm *is* humor.
Just not of the "laughing with you" variety.

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