Amazon Wednesday introduced its first smartphone in a bid to reshape the mobile device experience in the same way it has redefined online shopping and web services.
The Amazon Fire smartphone includes innovative new 3-D dynamic perspective technology, four front facing cameras and new Firefly technology.
"What if there were a thousand artists standing by to redraw the picture every time you moved your head?" asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as he demonstrated the device in front of a crowd at the event.
Bezos showed off the the 3-D imaging technology by tilting the phone and revealing how the perspective of 3-D images on the phone would change. This feature worked seamlessly and smoothly during the demo, and worked with Amazon’s map software as well. Bezos zoomed in on the Empire State Building in the map app from an aerial view, and the 3-D image of the tower appeared as if it were sticking out of the phone. Like the images he showed before, the building would sway and change in perspective as the phone was tilted.
"It is compulsive once you learn how to do it," said AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega of the user interface of Dynamic Perspective at the event. "This is some great breakthrough innovation."
Amazon’s Fire Phone is exclusive to AT&T and is available for preorder now via both Amazon and AT&T’s websites, as well as AT&T retail stores. The Fire Phone will ship July 25. AT&T Partner Exchange members, which can now sell AT&T's end-to-end mobility portfolio, could see a big business boost with the Fire Phone introduction.
There are four cameras on the corners of the device, each feature infrared technology. Amazon markets the camera as 10X more efficient thanks to its global shutter feature rather than the rolling shutter on other smartphone cameras.
Amazon also unveiled Firefly technology that allows the phone to recognize objects around it including products, artwork, music and more. It allows users to use the “designated Firefly button” on the side of the phone to shop for items through Amazon’s shopping ecosystem.
Fire Phone has a 4.7-inch HD display running on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM.
The Amazon smartphone is priced at $199 for the 32-GB model and $299 for the 64-GB model, with an AT&T contract.
Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y-based solution provider that ranked No. 211 on CRN's 2014 Solution Provider 500 list, said Amazon is late to the smartphone game with what he called a "me-too" device. "It's not a game-changer," he said. "It basically enhances the Amazon experience vs. the everyday experience."
Venero said he sees the new Fire phone as a niche play given its proprietary Fire OS, which starts with Android but adds Amazon cloud services and other features to integrate Amazon’s own content. "This is a niche product with a niche play with a potential wow factor," he said. "But it's not a wow factor that is going to have a big impact or take major market share."
There also was no mention of battery life of the device, which had another solution provider scratching his head.
"With the perspective based 3-D technology, that’s pretty neat, but hopefully it isn’t a battery killer," said Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, an Ontario-based solution provider. "
Grosfield did commend Amazon for the Fire Phone's its innovative features and low price point, but believes the phone is a "tool for Amazon to streamline users to its online store."
PUBLISHED JUNE 18, 2014