Seattle – The new Amazon Fire smartphone, introduced at an invitation-only press conference on June 18, includes features specifically designed to encourage shopping on Amazon.com. Most significantly, a feature known as Firefly can recognize 100 million items, including physical objects such as CDs as well as barcodes and QR codes. It is the first smartphone Amazon has produced on its own.
At the tap of a button, users can purchase a detected item, which can also include songs recognized with the phone’s built-in microphone, from Amazon.com. In addition, Firefly can perform services such as pulling up a Wikipedia entry on an image of a piece of art and recognize phone numbers and street signs.
The Fire phone will also include Amazon’s Mayday 24/7 customer support service currently offered to users of its Kindle Fire tablet. And Amazon Fire will fully support all Amazon Prime offerings such as Prime Music and Prime Video, as well as the Kindle Newsstand app for buying electronic publications.
Other notable Amazon Fire features include a 3-D interface with a head-tracking system that uses four cameras with a rolling shutter to provide a continually changing 3-D view as the user tilts the phone in different directions. During the event, Bezos demonstrated an app that allowed the user to sort through dresses as if they in an actual 3D space.
Like the Kindle tablet, it appears the real motivation to Amazon entering the smartphone arena is to better promote the purchase of its goods and services by the rapidly growing contingent of smartphone owners. Initial price will be a competitive $199, with AT&T as exclusive carrier, and features like the 3-D interface and state-of-the-art screen display and sound should make it an attractive buy even for consumers who don’t intend to use it as a mobile e-commerce device. But features like Firefly and integration with Amazon Prime make it clear that Amazon Fire should be viewed through the lens of m-commerce as well as through the lens of telecom.