After Jessica Lessin reported that Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) was planning to release a free smartphone, the Seattle-based online retailer responded that it doesn’t have any plans to launch a phone, free or otherwise, this year.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, isn’t planning a phone for next year, and the rumor mill is starting to spin quickly. Someone claiming to be an insider posted some details about the Amazon Phone on Hacker News, and these details were then supported by TechCrunch.
The insider, under the name "Helvodka," wrote that Amazon is actually developing two phones. One runs software similar to the Kindle Fire and will be released by the end of this year, despite Amazon’s statement in September. The other one, code-named “Smith,” will be a higher-end device and feature a 3D user interface.
“The screen itself is not 3D, but the front of the phone has 4 cameras placed on each corner of the phone, this is to track the user's eyes/head and move the UI to give the impression of 3D [sic],” Helvodka wrote, adding that this phone won’t be ready until next year at the earliest.
The interface will be similar to the parallax effect in Apple's iOS 7, but will be based on how the head moves rather than how the phone moves. According to TechCrunch, the cameras in the Amazon phone will also track eye movement. Amazon has supposedly developed software for the cameras to ignore other faces, meaning the 3D won’t get messed up if multiple people look at the phone.
Helvodka also mentioned that the phone will have an image recognition feature that will allow users to take pictures of objects and search Amazon for similar products. Amazon could use sales from this feature to supplement the cost of the phone, allowing Amazon to sell it for less.
According to the post, Amazon wanted to have this phone launched already, but has been bogged down with hardware and software difficulties. Amazon has also had a problem retaining key employees. Several departments have been made short staffed to move people over to the Amazon Phone team.
The details match news leaked by the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that said the phones as well as a set-top box were being designed in the Amazon Lab126 in Cupertino, Calif.