Just what the world needed -- another smartphone on the market.
But that's what is in store for Wednesday, June 18, as Amazon.com will reveal its long-awaited, first-ever branded smartphone, which will be an Android device. Amazon is set to unveil the device at a major press event in Seattle. It will probably not ship to consumers until the fall.
The new smartphone is rumored to be exclusive to AT&T, according to the Wall Street Journal. Amazon and AT&T have connected on earlier Amazon products, including the Amazon Kindle tablets. How long the new phone will be in AT&T's purview is not yet known, but probably nowhere near as long as the original Apple iPhone was exclusive to AT&T -- a three year stint. AT&T has not commented on the report. It's likely it will have something to say at the Amazon press event.
A leaked image of the new phone -- no guarantees that it's accurate -- can be viewed here.
It will likely have a 4.7-inch screen (but only 720p resolution) and incorporate the Android-exclusive gesture controls.
One of the most buzz-worthy rumored phone features mentioned by the WSJ is a screen that utilizes a combination of front-facing cameras to display holographic 3D images without the need for special glasses. This would represent a breakthrough for any smartphone or tablet screen; whether it proves to function well and offer Amazon a competitive advantage remains to be seen. The display may also be able to track its users eye movements.
In preparation for entering the tightly packed smartphone field, Amazon has been beefing up its Appstore selection, touting the near-tripling of the store's selections over the past year. Amazon claims that there are now over 240,000 apps and games in the store, accessible in nearly 200 countries and compatible with an array of devices. That's impressive; but the Apple App Store and Google Play each claim over 1.2 million apps.
Mike George, vice president of Amazon Appstore and Games, noted "this is just the beginning -- we're building more services and capabilities for developers and more Android-based APIs based on their feedback. Most Android apps just work on Kindle Fire, and with an Appstore made for Android devices, Amazon's Appstore can help developers distribute their apps on Android devices all over the world."
Aside from some hardware features that may be, at least for the time being, exclusive to the Amazon phone, the company will probably consider cross-marketing the phone with its other Internet-enabled products and its Android-rich Appstore in order to maintain a competitive footing with other phone makers.