retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is expected to release a new smartphone with a 3-D screen later this year, with an announcement scheduled for June and shipping slated for September - in time for the end-of-year holiday shopping season, and putting it squarely into a battle that has been dominated by Samsung and Apple, which together have 49 percent of the worldwide smartphone market.

The story says that Amazon "has been demonstrating versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and its hometown," and that it "hopes to distinguish its phone in a crowded market with a screen capable of displaying seemingly three-dimensional images without special glasses … the phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram."

The Journal notes that the expectations reflect what appears to be an increased emphasis on devices at Amazon:

"News of the phone comes as Amazon moves more deeply into designing and making hardware. Last week, it unveiled its Fire TV set-top box and said it will soon begin distributing a wand customers can use to scan product barcodes at home to re-order groceries and other goods without logging into their computers. It introduced new versions of its Kindle Fire tablets last year.

"But Amazon approaches hardware differently than many other companies. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has said he prefers Amazon to profit from customers buying services through Amazon hardware, rather than profit from the devices themselves."
KC's View:
What makes this apparent shift in strategy by Amazon so interesting is that it can be anticipated that pretty much everything Amazon does is aimed at selling stuff. The Kindle was designed to sell digital books. The Fire TV, I think, eventually will allow people to be watching a program and buy products they see onscreen (which will ramp up the whole product placement industry). Clearly the wand, dubbed Amazon Dash, is aimed at selling groceries … though I must admit that I'm not sure why they decided to make it a separate device as opposed to integrating the service into a smartphone application.

Expect that an Amazon smartphone will be designed to facilitate buying. Especially buying from Amazon. Or through Amazon, as other retailers adopt its payment processing systems.

It's Amazon's world; we're all just living in it. (Or at least that seems to be Jeff Bezos' vision…)