If the rumors are to be believed (and a handful of leaked photos), Amazon.com will announce a smartphone at a press event today. The feature set is intriguing and, if true, it could alter the way we consume data, play games and shop.
The smartphone space is a crowded one with Apple's iPhone, devices from Google, Samsung, HTC and LG – so another entry will be fighting to get some attention. There's also the BlackBerry still struggling to maintain marketshare after it nearly dominated the space just a decade ago. But a phone backed by Amazon and tied seamlessly into what it has to offer will likely give it the same popularity as the Kindle.
The phone is rumored to have a 3-D interface, which will be huge for gaming. Mobile gaming is becoming a big part of the gaming industry and by some estimates will be a $60B market in the coming years. 3-D would push the space further still and far beyond the simple Candy Crush games.
Amazon is also rumored to be adding Prime Data– a data plan that doesn't ding you when you are streaming content from Amazon.com like movies, music and TV shows that are included in the site's $99/year Prime membership. This would be a game changer because streaming content is the biggest burden on your data plan. If your 2GB a month were for email, web surfing and downloading apps you'd certainly be saving on data and not risk going over your plan, even if you watched an entire series online.
There is also speculation the device will feature a unique gesture based interface and possibly track your head and eye movements to interact with the phone– making it more user friendly. These features sound intriguing, but they have to go beyond being gimmicky to make a splash with consumers who tend to want devices that will save them time and money.
This will be Amazon's challenge: will it be useful to users? Amazon will need to have a robust app store that will give their phone access to mobile banking, social media and the web. If the phone will only let you shop on Amazon with ease, it will face an uphill battle against devices running Android or iOS who collectively offer millions of app choices. Facebook tried, and failed, to sell a phone branded for the social media site, but it didn't sell. We just didn't seem to think we needed to be that tied to the site.
So, will we want to be tied tightly to Amazon.com?
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