Don’t count Amazon out of the handset business quite yet

Amazon’s Fire phone was an unmitigated flop, as evidenced by the $83 million worth of unsold handsets the company can’t unload. But there are reasons to believe the company could take another shot at the smartphone business — and it may eventually succeed.

What Xiaomi’s success tells us about emerging markets

Xiaomi overtook Samsung to become the largest smartphone vendor in China during the second quarter. Duplicating that success in outside its homeland will be difficult, but Xiaomi’s success provides some important lessons for any smartphone manufacturer targeting emerging markets.

Why carriers still matter

Sales of the iPhone are plateauing because some carriers are balking at Apple’s terms, and operators are undermining the wishes of some manufacturers by demanding that Android handsets have their bootloaders locked. Those two separate developments underscore how much power carriers still have in the smartphone era.

Windows Phone is not a priority for Samsung

An analyst believes Samsung may be trying to slow the growth of Windows Phone by playing footsie with Microsoft. While that’s pure speculation, it would be a clever strategy given Samsung’s ambitious efforts with Android as well as its own Tizen platform.

Why Motorola’s product pipeline is a real problem for Google

Google can’t produce any “transformative” new Android gadgets until it can drain the products currently in Motorola’s pipeline, an executive conceded this week. That’s a problem because Samsung is moving aggressively to create a superior Android ecosystem of its own.

Will Microsoft bring a smartphone to market?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is working with component suppliers to test a smartphone design. But the tablet market is very different than the smartphone market, and bringing its own handset to market would be a risky move for the venerable software company.

Today in Mobile

Google finally announced the closing of its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola, officially marking its entry as a hardware manufacturer. But as CNBC explains here, the Internet behemoth must still figure out what to do with its costly, sprawling new business: It can continue to operate Motorola as it is (and probably continue to bleed money), or it could whittle down operations and focus on just a few key products. Regardless, it now has a chance to wrest more control from carriers, though, which could still be a winning strategy. So as my colleague Kevin C. Tofel writes, competing Android manufacturers like Samsung and HTC should start thinking about building devices for other mobile operating systems.

Today in Mobile

The Wall Street Journal provides today’s must read with an insightful piece questioning the strategy behind Google’s $12 billion acquisition of Motorola. The move has widely been seen as a simple buy of a massive patent library, but the Journal notes that Motorola still has more than 20,000 employees in dozens of factories worldwide “churning out low-margin cellphones and cable-TV boxes” — a business that has lost $5.3 billion over the last five years. Writer Dennis K. Berman finally concludes that Google smugly believes it can be “a hardware company with software margins,” which is a feat only Apple has achieved in the world of mobile. And unlike Google — or Motorola, for that matter — Apple has years of experience in creating the most highly prized gadgets in the world.