Many have expected Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) to enter the smartphone market for a long time, and according to one source, the company will release its first smartphone in 2014. If the rumor is true, the Amazon phone will have six cameras, which calls to mind Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently announced Project Tango project.
KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has an impressive track record of predicting product release dates. He said Amazon will launch a smartphone before year’s end, in a note to investors. Amazon will use the “same hardware strategy” that it used with Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets, Kuo notes, which means the company with partner with a hardware company to manufacture the Kindle phone.
Kuo predicts the Amazon smartphone will feature mid- to high-range specs, including a Qualcomm Snapgragon 801 processor, a 4.7-inch display with 300-320 pixels-per-inch (ppi) and a 2,000-2,400 mAh battery. The most interesting thing that Kuo suggests about Amazon’s smartphone is not the computing hardware, but rather, its cameras.
Inside its plastic housing, Kuo says Amazon will cram a 13-megapixel main camera sensor made by Sony -- with five other cameras. While one camera will be front-facing for video chats, Kuo said "the other four cameras will be used for gesture control, allowing users to operate the smartphone without touching the touch panel.”
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While touch-free control makes the Amazon smartphone sound more like the Leap Motion than Project Tango, it could be very interesting if earlier reports turn out to be true. Last year, reports said that Amazon was looking at a glasses-free 3D interface for a Kindle phone. The additional cameras might allow for interaction with hologram-like 3D images to bring a whole new dimension to mobile gaming, or, at the very least, offer “Minority Report”-style swipe gestures to the smartphone.
KGI predicts Amazon will release the Kindle phone sometime in the next three to six months. So by September, you might see people waving at their smartphones in addition to talking to their wrists.
Kuo says Amazon will be “integrating the smartphone with its own services such as e-commerce,” and presumably the company’s Netflix competitor, Prime Instant Video. Amazon recently raised the price for Prime membership from $79 to $99, which offers free two-day shipping on items, and streaming selected premium movies and TV shows. Might Amazon offer Prime members some other incentive for buying its phone to justify the higher price?
In all likelihood, the chances of the Amazon smartphone having similar functionality as Google’s Project Tango are slim to nil, although the plethora of cameras make the two sound similar. Project Tango will utilize its cameras to digitally map indoor spaces to aid navigation services, and perhaps even someday help blind people get around. The developer version of the handset from the folks at Mountain View will ship with an infrared depth-sensor camera, as well as two fish-eye camera sensors; one with 180-degree field of view (FOV), and another boasting a 120-degree lens.
Follow Reporter Thomas Halleck on Twitter @tommylikey