June 18, 2014
As Expected, E-Commerce Giant Amazon Unveils New Fire Phone
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Was there really any surprise in the announcement that Amazon.com would release a smartphone? The news had been expected and on Wednesday the e-commerce giant made it official at a splashy event in Seattle.
"Can we build a better phone for our most engaged customers?" asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the event as reported by CNN/Money. "Can we build a better phone for Amazon Prime members? Well, I'm excited to tell you that the answer is yes."
The answer was also the Fire Phone, a high-end 3D smartphone that features a 4.7-inch high-definition display, along with infrared lights and even cameras mounted on the handset's surface. These allow it to track user's head movements to better render the images on the screen.
PRE-ORDER YOURS TODAY! Amazon Fire Phone, 32GB (AT&T)
The Fire Phone will be sold exclusively via AT&T with a price of $199 for a 32GB version and a two-year contract, or $299 for a 64GB version. Amazon is also including a free year of Amazon Prime, its customer loyalty program; existing Prime members will get a bonus year tacked onto their current Prime subscription. The handset is now available for pre-order on Amazon's website and it will begin shipping on July 25.
No sooner was the announcement made than the specs and details for the handset were added to the front of the Amazon.com website.
"Fire is the only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, two new technologies that allow you to see and interact with your world through a whole new lens," Bezos wrote for the front page, while highlighting the novel new features. "Dynamic Perspective uses a custom-designed sensor system that responds to the way you hold, view, and move your phone. It opens up a new class of immersive apps and games not possible on other smartphones, as well as one-handed navigation and gestures like auto-scroll—read long web pages and books without ever touching the screen."
The Fire Phone features a quad-core 2.2GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13megapixel camera, which offers optical image-stabilization that lets the shutter stay open four-times longer than most cameras. This will reportedly counteract a shaky hand while snapping photos. The handset will also include unlimited photo storage on Amazon's Cloud Drive. Amazon's Instant Video service will also be preinstalled on the device as well as Amazon's newly launched music streaming service.
The handset also includes dual stereo speakers and will ship with premium earbuds.
Analyst reaction to the device was positive and Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics called it a "very good, innovative phone."
"It is always great when a new company enters the market as it provides a fresh look on a true and tried product. Through its distribution capabilities Amazon has a significant leg up," Entner told redOrbit. "The success of the Amazon Kindle Fire is a good benchmark of what Amazon can do; and maybe it can do even better than the Kindle Fire."
The handset's newly announced "Firefly" feature can help the device recognize physical objects including household products, and can also listen to songs and identify what users are hearing.
"Firefly recognizes over 100 million different items, and it does so under real world circumstances," Bezos added. "Firefly is so easy to access, customers are going to love this."
The key word there is "customers" as Firefly can help recognize an object and then allow a user to buy it from Amazon.
"Fire Phone is less about competing with iPhone and Galaxy and more about helping Amazon.com continuing to build loyalty, solidifying customer relationships and selling more stuff," telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan told redOrbit. "The Fire Phone strategy is to expand the Kindle success. The only question is will it work. The marketing of a smartphone is a much different game. Only a few succeed."
Kagan added that there are no guarantees.
"We'll just have to wait and see," he noted. "But at least Amazon.com does not have to sell a gazillion Fire Phones to consider it a success."