Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is developing a high-end 3D smartphone as part of a wider push into mobile and hardware, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the latest indication that a smartphone is coming from the e-commerce giant and Kindle purveyor.
The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the projects, said Amazon is working on a lineup of devices, including two smartphones and an "audio-only streaming device." The 3D smartphone would let users see 3D images without glasses, the report said, adding that by using retina-tracking technology, images on the smartphone would seem to hover above the screen like a hologram and appear 3D from all viewing angles.
The report also said that users might be able to navigate through content just using their eye movements, a technology that Samsung Electronics introduced with its Galaxy S4. Additionally, the report noted that Amazon is working on a set-top box for streaming movies and TV shows.
Amazon declined to comment, according to the Journal.
This is certainly not the first time Amazon had been fingered for a smartphone. Last month, DigiTimes reported Foxconn is conducting engineering verification tests on a Kindle phone but the process has experienced a series of speed bumps. While Amazon originally planned to begin manufacturing early in the second quarter, the report said Foxconn's Ensky Tech subsidiary is now unlikely to enter mass production until June, delaying a commercial rollout until at least the third quarter of 2013.
And, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reported in July 2012 that Amazon tapped Foxconn to develop the device, adding the digital retailer has assembled a portfolio of patents covering wireless technologies to fend off potential allegations of infringement. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has also hinted at addition devices beyond Kindles.
Potentially as part of its efforts to get into the hotly contested smartphone game, Amazon reportedly has acquired voice recognition technology startup Evi. Sources recently told TechCrunch the deal is valued at $26 million. The Evi search application, available for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, responds to voice and text queries with spoken answers delivered in plain English. Users may also schedule events, make calls, and send texts and emails. The Evi app is extremely similar in concept and scope to Apple's own Siri voice assistant technology--so much so, in fact, that rumors once indicated Apple planned to remove Evi from its App Store, a decision that never came to pass.
The reported Evi deal came three months after Amazon acquired text-to-speech technology firm Ivona Software, which powered accessibility features optimized for the online retail giant's Kindle Fire tablets. At that time, Amazon said it would work with Ivona to build new voice solutions and products but did not divulge any concrete details.
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
Special Report: 3D smartphones: The quick death of a nascent technology
Report: Amazon acquires Siri clone Evi for $26M, rekindling smartphone buzz
Amazon Appstore for Android expands to nearly 200 countries
Rumor Mill: Amazon's Kindle smartphone delayed by production challenges
5 reasons why Amazon may never release a smartphone
Amazon acquires text-to-speech firm Ivona to rival Apple's Siri
Amazon's Bezos hints at more devices but won't confirm smartphone rumors