Amazon’s plans to launch its own smartphone have been rumoured for some time, but in a world of endless Android handsets, how could it stand out? Giving the phone away would certainly be one tactic. Former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin, who’s now launching her own site with a string of scoops, claims this may be what Amazon is planning. “The online retailer and Kindle maker is considering introducing its long-planned smartphone for free to consumers,” claims the story by Lessin and colleague Amir Efrati. “The people familiar with the matter said that Amazon wants the device to be free whether or not people sign up for a new wireless plan at the same time.” With smartphone manufacturing costs of $200-ish, the strategy to make this money back would presumably involve getting people to buy digital content from Amazon, but also shop on its main service. For its part, Amazon has publicly slapped down the speculation – a rare rebuttal from this company – with a statement saying that it isn’t launching a smartphone this year, and if it ever does it “would not be free”. But we’ll be interested to see what fire is causing this smoke.