The Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) smartphone rumor mill is churning once again, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the online retailer will release a smartphone in the second half of 2014.
The report, citing unnamed sources, said the company has been showing off versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and near its headquarters in Seattle in the past few weeks, and that Amazon aims to announce the phone by the end of June and start shipping phones by the end of September, ahead of the holiday shopping season (and around the time Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will likely introduce the iPhone 6).
The report also said the phone will have a screen capable of displaying seemingly 3D-images without special glasses by using a retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3D, similar to a hologram.
Amazon declined to comment, according to the report.
Amazon has been pushing deeper into hardware. Last week the company unveiled its Fire TV set-top box and said it will soon begin pushing a wand customers can use to scan product barcodes at home to re-order groceries and other goods without using their computers. Amazon also sells its Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers.
Numerous facets of the Amazon smartphone strategy remain unclear, the report noted, including the design and pricing of the smartphone, which operating system it will use or which wireless carrier it will work with to provide service. Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets use a forked version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform and AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) provide LTE service for Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets.
Amazon has told one of its suppliers it is anticipating mass production of the device later this month, with an initial order of 600,000 units, according to the report.
Of course, this is not the first time rumors of an Amazon smartphone have percolated. Amazon was reported to be working with smartphone maker HTC on three smartphones, according to an October 2013 Financial Times report. In May 2013, the Journal first reported that Amazon was developing a high-end 3D smartphone. In March 2013, DigiTimes reported Amazon would release a smartphone in the second quarter of 2013. Bloomberg reported in July 2012 that Amazon had tapped Foxconn to develop the device, adding the digital retailer had assembled a portfolio of patents covering wireless technologies to fend off potential allegations of infringement. Indeed, The Verge "confirmed" the Amazon smartphone in a Sept. 5, 2012, article, and noted the gadget "could be announced tomorrow." And a New York Times post in 2010 indicated Amazon was considering a smartphone.
Further, last year Amazon was reported to have tested Globalstar's terrestrial low-power service (TLPS). Amazon is said to be interested in TLPS for wide-area connections, which could replace expensive cellular service that currently delivers data to its Kindle-brand devices.
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
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