Amazon Expected To Unveil First Smartphone Wednesday, Reportedly Will Be Exclusive To AT&T


Amazon wll bust into the mobile marketplace Wednesday, when it is expected to unveil its highly anticipated, first-ever smartphone to the public during a launch event in Seattle.

Amazon has been rumored for years to be working on a smartphone with 3-D capabilities. The handset is expected to be revealed Wednesday and will be able to display 3-D imaging without users having to wear 3-D glasses, according to a Wall Street Journal report from early April. The phone reportedly will have four front-facing cameras for eye-tracking technology and may be a rival to the top high-end smartphones currently on the market.

[Related: Is Amazon On The Verge Of Releasing The First 3-D Smartphone? ]

AT&T will be the exclusive carrier of the much anticipated smartphone, according to a separate Wall Street Journal story published Tuesday. AT&T would not comment on the report when reached by CRN via email and Amazon did not respond to CRN's request for comment.

If the Amazon smartphone is exclusive to AT&T, this is big news for AT&T channel partners: The Dallas-based telecommunications company recently gave partners the green light through its Partner Exchange program to start selling its end-to-end mobility portfolio, including smartphones and tablets that are certified to run on AT&T's network.

With so much hype building around Amazon’s rumored 3-D smartphone, AT&T partners could see a big boost in business.

"That's going to be an advantage of being a [Partner Exchange] partner with AT&T. It's a big differentiator that they can provide to their small but elite channel," said Bruce Flitcroft, CEO and founder of Alliant Technologies, a Morristown, N.J.-based solution provider and AT&T partner. "We are not ready yet to productize that and take it to market, but there are AT&T partners that have very strong mobile device management skills and that's who will probably be the biggest winners in this new [Amazon] deal with AT&T. If you are an AT&T partner who has strong mobile device management capabilities, you are probably celebrating right now."

AT&T already is a wireless service provider of Amazon’s tablets and e-readers. The smartphone reportedly will be an exclusive extension of that.

“Amazon has a very strong following. Having a device that’s specifically an Amazon device certainly increases demand for it,” said Max Silber, executive director of mobility at MetTel, a New York-based AT&T partner. “In general, new devices that already have an established brand and have consumer loyalty do drive demand in the consumer space. Those kinds of devices drive the competitive landscape and does benefit partners like MetTel.”

Silber said he has not received any formal notifications on the Amazon device or its exclusivity with AT&T, but he expects to find out during the launch event like everyone else.

“From our perspective, we are delighted to be in the Partner Exchange program, having access to the latest and greatest devices as they come out,” he said. “We’re certainly excited about the Amazon device coming out. If it’s exclusive [to AT&T], it certainly will have a big impact on AT&T’s subscriber base. It will be interesting to see how the industry adopts it. Everything is going to depend on what they are announcing as far as its capabilities.

When Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007, AT&T was the exclusive provider. It wasn’t until three years later that other carriers were able to offer the iPhone as well.

KRISTIN BENT contributed to this story.

PUBLISHED JUNE 17, 2014