April 13, 2014
Rumors Indicate Amazon Smartphone Announcement Coming This Summer
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Following years of rumors and speculation, it appears as though Amazon.com will finally announce their entry into the smartphone market this summer, sources familiar with the company’s plans have told the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
According to WSJ reporters Greg Bensinger and Evelyn M. Rusli, the online retail giant has been demonstrating prototype versions of the device to developers in Seattle and San Francisco over the past few weeks. The company is planning to officially unveil the smartphone before the end of June and hopes to begin shipping them by the end of September, sources that had been informed of the company’s plans told the newspaper.
The phone itself will have glasses-free 3D capability, and will also be outfitted with four front-facing cameras and/or sensors with retina-tracking capabilities Mashable’s Adario Strange noted. Japan Display is listed as one of the company’s manufacturing components for the yet unnamed device, and the first order will be for approximately 600,000 units, he added.
While Bensinger and Rusli report that Amazon is banking on the 3D display, CNET’s Roger Cheng and Donna Tam, said that the device’s price will have to be the distinguishing factor between the company’s device and similar offerings from Apple, Samsung, HTC and other already-established handset manufacturers.
“If [Amazon] wants to make a mark in the smartphone world, as it is reportedly ready to do this fall, it should double-down on what it's done so well in the past: offering a product that undercuts competitors,” Cheng and Tam wrote. “Yes, a 3D feature and multiple front-facing cameras sound nice. But the only way to truly get attention in a world dominated by Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S family is to go big with a budget-friendly device.”
Even then, the price tag will have to be “pretty low” for the company to compete, they added. “Amazon probably won't see the same kind of consumer loyalty for a smartphone as it did with the Kindle Fire tablets, or even the recently-released Fire TV… There's much more competition for smartphones, and although tablets are also a mobile device, people don't treat them like smartphones, which need carriers to power data consumption on the go.”
The company does not release sales figures, but has reportedly already sold out of Fire TV devices, according to CNET. The question appears to be whether or not they can succeed in a crowded smartphone market that has already claimed one-time heavy hitters such as BlackBerry and Motorola. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that just two companies (Apple and Samsung) own nearly half of the global smartphone market.
Amazon declined the Journal’s request for comment, and Bensinger and Rusli said that the exact design and price-structure of the product are not clear at the moment. In addition, their sources said that it is possible that the online retailer could alter their launch plans due to potential performance or related concerns.
“Because consumers carry smartphones with them everywhere, Amazon would gain access to data like users' locations and app downloads, which could help generate new sales opportunities for e-books, video downloads and items like household goods,” Bensinger and Rusli said. “A smartphone may also open up new avenues for mobile payments, a nascent market dominated today by rival eBay Inc.'s PayPal.”