Amazon has finally decided to play around with the smartphone market.
The new Fire Phone was debuted on Wednesday, and has been rumored to be in development since 2009. If that’s true, there isn’t a whole lot to show for it. At $199 with a contract and a free 12-month Prime membership, it’s not competing with Apple or Android price-wise.
A couple cool features include the Mayday button which pulls up a customer service representative, a Firefly button that can identify items in the world and put them in your Amazon cart, and a sensor that responds to the way you hold the device.
“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand,” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in a press release issued after the event.
Bezos also showed how the phone can be used to read books sold on Amazon, store photos in Amazon’s cloud, scan objects around you and shop for them on Amazon, and sync with Amazon TV.
Based on the current price (most expect it to go down) Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners, doesn’t exactly expect the device to become the new smartphone market leader. “They’re not gonna be dethroning Apple anytime soon,” he said.
Another cool perk is that the phone is able to display images in 3D. This is done with four specialized cameras on the front that track a person’s head movement.
“The key is knowing where the user’s head is at all time,” Bezos said. In real time. Many, many times a second.”
The phone has a 4.7-inch screen, a rubberized frame, and Gorilla Glass on both sides.
“Ultimately, the primary users do tend to be their own customers. That’s who are the adopters of Kindle tablets,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst with Forrester Research. “I’m sure that those people spend a lot more with Amazon.”