Adding more fuel to the “Amazon is building a smartphone” rumors, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported today that the company is developing two smartphones and an audio-only music device. Though, the report doesn’t say these devices will likely carry the Kindle brand.
The WSJ describes one of the two smartphones as a having a 3-D screen:
One of the devices is a high-end smartphone featuring a screen that allows for 3-D images without glasses, these people said. Using retina-tracking technology, images on the smartphone would seem to float above the screen like a hologram and appear three-dimensional at all angles, they said. Users may be able to navigate through content using just their eyes, two of the people said.
Lots has already been written and speculated about Amazon’s smartphones and broader hardware ambitions (including a video-streaming Apple-TV-like set-top box).
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are the second best-selling devices after the iPad, and the best-selling Android tablets in the US by a significant margin. This is true despite the fact that Google’s Nexus 7 is generally a superior device.
While it very much remains to be seen what Amazon releases — specs, and especially pricing, matter — the Amazon and Kindle brands clearly carry weight, and Amazon’s channel and access to consumers give the company a megaphone to promote the handsets. Thus, Amazon’s smartphones can be expected to gain consumer notice at a minimum.
Assuming there are, in fact, two Amazon smartphones in the works, my suspicion is that one is for budget-minded consumers and one (the 3-D screen version) is a higher-end model designed to compete with competitors’ “flagship” devices.
Because Amazon operates a “forked” version of Android and has its own app store, Amazon smartphone success would not be a happy thing for Google or the “Android ecosystem.”