After months of rumors, Amazon’s smartphone ambitions are reportedly set to take shape in June. That’s when the company will introduce its smartphone, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Friday. Amazon’s phone is expected to have multiple cameras and a glasses-free 3D experience when it goes on sale in September.
Much of the Journal’s report reiterates prior leaks, so there’s not much new information here save for one of the most important aspects: An actual release date, or at least the months of Amazon’s phone announcement and launch. As far as those cameras? They’ll “employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram,” said the Journal’s sources.
A September sale would likely pit Amazon directly against a new iPhone (or two) when vying for consumer purchases. Unlike Apple, however, Amazon typically doesn’t seek to earn profits from hardware sales but instead offers devices at lower prices and make money from related software, services and goods sold through Amazon.com.
The Journal’s sources said that Amazon has been showing off early releases of the phone hardware to developers, likely to build interest. The company already woos developers to its Amazon AppStore, which hosts modified Google Android applications that run nicely on the company’s Kindle Fire tablets. I suspect Amazon will continue to build upon the open-sourced version of Android for its phone, just as it does with the Kindle Fire and new Fire TV. Doing so keeps software development costs down as the AOSP, or Android Open Source Project, offers the basic building blocks of smartphone software for free.
In fact, with the Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon already has done much of the software work that’s needed for a phone. There’s a browser, email app, and support for third-party software. Adding cellular radios and a corresponding phone application isn’t a simple task, but the heavy lifting has already been done.
One bit of software I anticipate will surely be on Amazon’s phone is Amazon Instant Video. Although nearly any Google Android device can play music through Amazon’s MP3 player or show e-book content in the Amazon Kindle app, not a single Android phone or tablet currently supports movies or television content through Amazon. The company has never released a version of Instant Video for Android, so keeping it for its own phone will certainly stir up a little demand.