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Catching Fire: What to expect from the Amazon phone

Susie Ochs | June 18, 2014
The market for Android phones is large and crowded, but Wednesday looks like it will finally be the day we welcome Amazon to the jungle.

The market for Android phones is large and crowded, but Wednesday looks like it will finally be the day we welcome Amazon to the jungle. Jeff Bezos and Co. are having a big event (and TechHive is invited), where it's expected we'll get to see Amazon's long-anticipated smartphone. The teaser video seems to confirm the persistent rumor that the Amazon phone will have a 3D screen, but is that enough to set it apart from the galaxy of competitors?

After I accepted Amazon's invitation to Wednesday's event, a children's book showed up in the mail--Mr. Pine's Purple House, by Leonard Kessler, currently the No. 2,837th most popular book on Amazon. It's a story about Mr. Pine who lives on Vine Street, where all the houses look the same. Everything Mr. Pine does to his house to make it stand out is promptly copied by his neighbors (in the spirit of flattery, of course), until--spoiler alert--he finally paints his house purple, and then all the neighbors decide to paint their houses too, but with whatever color they like best.

Now, a purple phone isn't new--heck, I could find you a purple Galaxy S3 or Lumia 620 by 3 o'clock this afternoon--so what special color will Mr. Bezos paint his house?

Personal shopper

I like the idea that it's all about shopping. Amazon's Kindles and Kindle Fire tablets make buying Amazon content like e-books, movies, TV shows, and even magazines and newspapers a seamless, dare I say delightful experience. But few self-respecting consumers actually take an e-reader or tablet to the mall. Your smartphone is your sidekick on every shopping trip, and Amazon must have tons of data about where people are using its smartphone apps to comparison shop in brick-and-mortar stores. An Amazon phone could suggest better deals almost before you think to ask.

And we know that Amazon will do anything to make shopping at Amazon more seamless. Some customers are even getting barcode scanners, called Amazon Dash. Yes, it's an actual handheld laser scanner, and you walk around your house shooting lasers at things that you want more of. Or if that's too much work, you can speak into the built-in microphone, just mutter the name of anything your heart desires, and it shows up in your Amazon cart, right next to whatever you added by hashtag. A couple of clicks to check out, and in two days or one day or zero days, poof, there it is.

Sorry, I digress. What if the Amazon's phone had a laser barcode scanner on it just like the Dash's, with voice recognition to rival Siri's? What if the rumored 3D screen was to better show off preview photos and videos of products--out of the box, assembled, even in use--in the phone's flagship Amazon shopping app? As a person who loves buying things but hates the mall, I'm in.


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