The Fire phone is the first smartphone from the Seattle-based retailer. Butbefore you say ho-hum, it's not just the latest sparkly gadget. It's a clearsignal that Amazon now has locked onto Applewith its infrared sensors.
Importantly, the phone connects with other Amazon services directly, meaningyou'll be able to do quick price checks on 70 million products, choose from 35million songs, tune in 160 live TV channels or watch 245,000 movies. Bandwidthsold separately, but the first year of Amazon Prime, the company's entertainmentservice, is included.
Shooting the Moon
"I see it as a key enabler," said mobile industry consultant ScottBales. "Apple likes to own the whole ecosystem. Amazon is moving in thatdirection as well."
For the geeks among us, here are the specs: Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor with2 GB RAM and a 4.7-inch 720-pixel display. It has four "ultra-lowpower" 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 MPrear-facing camera. And when you take photos, you will find unlimited storagespace in Amazon's cloud, a connectionsuggested 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 andgestures. "We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective thatrecognizes where a user's head is relative to the device. We use it to offercustomers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation and gestures thatactually work," said Amazon founder and chairman Jeff Bezos, who led alive-on-the-net announcement event that proved so popular, it turned peopleaway.
Bales noted the sensor may be more significant in Amazon's case because itties into other parts of Amazon's growing kingdom, like the Kindle Fire tabletand Prime.
There's a new service called Firefly that could keep brick-and-mortarretailers busy updating their shelf prices. It allows you to scan QR and barcodes, then check for a quick price check on Amazon, which, knowing where youare, may also know the price to beat.
While you can already use Amazon shopping apps on Apple or Androidphones, the Fire brings you inside Amazon's own world, making it muchsimpler to convert a price check into a purchase.
It Can Read
Firefly can also read printed addresses, business cards, artwork and caneven identify songs, movies and TV shows. The phone also includes Mayday, aservice that connects you with a live assistant within 15 seconds if somethinggoes wrong.
"Although today's announcement really just confirms a lot of rumors,it's really quite an exciting day," said Bales. "Historically, if youlook at Samsung and Apple, they come from the device side and have been addingcontent gradually, whereas Amazon has all the content and now it has adevice."
It Ain't Cheap
The Fire will go on sale for $199 for the 32GB version with a two-year AT&T contract, or canbe purchased without a contract for $649 -- a gutsy price that puts the newcomerin the price range of the much better-established iPhone. Will that be anobstacle for buyers?
"Consumers are getting smarter," said Bales, author of MobileReady: Connecting With the Untethered Consumers. "They're moreconnected an they're willing to turn to services like Amazon to see if they'regetting a good deal."
Featured Image: Julie Clopper, Shutterstock