Amazon, the company that wants to sell you everything, today introduced a phone that should make that much easier.
The Fire phone is the first smartphone from the Seattle-based retailer. But before you say ho-hum, it's not just the latest sparkly gadget. It's a clear signal that Amazon now has locked onto Apple with its infrared sensors.
Importantly, the phone connects with other Amazon services directly, meaning you'll be able to do quick price checks on 70 million products, choose from 35 million songs, tune in 160 live TV channels or watch 245,000 movies. Bandwidth sold separately, but the first year of Amazon Prime, the company's entertainment service, is included.
Shooting the Moon
"I see it as a key enabler," said mobile industry consultant Scott Bales. "Apple likes to own the whole ecosystem. Amazon is moving in that direction as well."
For the geeks among us, here are the specs: Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor with 2 GB RAM and a 4.7-inch 720-pixel display. It has four "ultra-low power" cameras and four infrared LEDs on its face that can trigger 3-D effects, a 2.1 MP front-facing camera for selfies and a 13 MP rear-facing camera. And when you take photos, you will find unlimited storage space in Amazon's cloud, a connection suggested earlier today on CMSWire by Virginia Backaitas. The phone will be released as an exclusive to AT&T.
Like Samsung's more advanced phones, the Fire can also sense movement and gestures. "We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user's head is relative to the device. We use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation and gestures that actually work," said Amazon founder and chairman Jeff Bezos, who led a live-on-the-net announcement event that proved so popular, it turned people away.
Bales noted the sensor may be more significant in Amazon's case because it ties into other parts of Amazon's growing kingdom, like the Kindle Fire tablet and Prime.
There's a new service called Firefly that could keep brick-and-mortar retailers busy updating their shelf prices. It allows you to scan QR and bar codes, then check for a quick price check on Amazon, which, knowing where you are, may also know the price to beat.
While you can already use Amazon shopping apps on Apple or Android phones, the Fire brings you inside Amazon's own world, making it much simpler to convert a price check into a purchase.
It Can Read
Firefly can also read printed addresses, business cards, artwork and can even identify songs, movies and TV shows. The phone also includes Mayday, a service that connects you with a live assistant within 15 seconds if something goes wrong.
"Although today's announcement really just confirms a lot of rumors, it's really quite an exciting day," said Bales. "Historically, if you look at Samsung and Apple, they come from the device side and have been adding content gradually, whereas Amazon has all the content and now it has a device."
It Ain't Cheap
The Fire will go on sale for $199 for the 32GB version with a two-year AT&T contract, or can be purchased without a contract for $649 — a gutsy price that puts the newcomer in the price range of the much better-established iPhone. Will that be an obstacle for buyers?
"Consumers are getting smarter," said Bales, author of Mobile Ready: Connecting With the Untethered Consumers. "They're more connected an they're willing to turn to services like Amazon to see if they're getting a good deal."
Featured Image: Julie Clopper, Shutterstock
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