Monday, 24 March 2014 06:50

Amazon ‘to develop Kindle smartphone’ Featured

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It had to happen. Amazon was late to the tablet race, but established itself quickly – at least in the US. Now it is readying a smartphone.

Its key feature will be the use of six cameras, four of which will be used for sophisticated gesture control. Allowing the phone to be operated with a minimal amount of physical contact. And it will set itself apart, like the Kindle tablets, by close integration with Amazon’s eStore and other products.

Some sort of Amazon phone has been rumoured for some time, but speculation has increased greatly with the publication of a research note from smartphone analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who is noted for accurately predicting many of Apple’s and Samsung’s smartphone moves.

“We predict Amazon will launch its own brand smartphone in 3-6 months, using the same hardware strategy as used for its e-reader and tablet,” Kuo wrote in a note to clients, obtained by tech website BGR. “The supply chain will start stocking up materials in 2Q14 for production. We estimate required components will amount to 700K-1.2 million units, and assembly to 300-600K units. Related suppliers will start to see benefits in 2Q14.”

Kuo said the Amazon smartphone will have six cameras. “Aside from the main camera, which is used to take pictures, and the sub camera, used for video conferencing (these are both found in all smartphones), we think the other four cameras will be used for gesture control, allowing users to operate the smartphone without touching the touch panel.

“Given the highly competitive smartphone market, Amazon will have to provide users with a unique experience to differentiate its phone from other brands. It would do this by integrating the smartphone with its own services such as eCommerce.

“If Amazon’s smartphone is a hit, we would expect shipments to grow significantly due to the hardware features and business model. At the current stage, when market acceptance is unclear, we preliminarily forecast shipments of 300-600K units in 2Q14 and 2-3 million units in 2014.”

Kuo said the Amazon phone will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, a 4.7-inch display with a pixel density of between 300 and 320 ppi, a plastic housing, a 13 megapixel Sony main camera.

BGR, which has its own contacts inside Amazon, says it has independently verified most of these features.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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