By Alexandra Burlacu | May 10, 2013 10:04 AM EDT
After more than a year of speculation regarding an Amazon-branded smartphone, a new report claims a 3D handset is one of two upcoming Amazon smartphones.
The online retail giant is apparently looking to expand beyond its popular range of Kindle devices in a bid to compete more directly with Apple and Google.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is actually working on two smartphones, one of which will sport a 3D screen. Citing multiple anonymous sources, the report claims Amazon is "developing a wide-ranging line-up of gadgets." The 3D-capable smartphone will reportedly not require any special glasses and may even boast eye-tracking technology to let users navigate by moving their eyes. The company is also working on an audio-only streaming device.
According to the WSJ's sources, the previously rumored Amazon smartphone and set-top box are part of a broader effort to develop a hardware lineup that includes the audio-streaming device and the high-end smartphone with 3D screen. Amazon has been developing these devices in its Lab126 facility in Cupertino, Calif., and the projects are referred to as Project A, B, C and D, or collectively as the Alphabet Projects.
Amazon reportedly plans to launch some of these devices in the coming months, but the insiders warned that some or all devices could fail to hit the market because of performance, financial or other issues.
Company representatives declined to comment, but Amazon got increasingly involved in hardware manufacturing in recent years, in an effort to broaden its reach and more directly compete with Apple. The range of devices under development is part of a strategy to expand Amazon's influence beyond its core e-commerce business and more into content distribution.
Needless to mention, Amazon would be joining a crowded and highly competitive hardware market. Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone market, together holding 61 percent of the U.S. market in the first quarter alone. That left other large players such as HTC with less than 10 percent, while BlackBerry (formerly known as Research in Motion or RIM, for short) and Nokia failed to keep pace and lagged far behind.
According to the WSJ's sources, Amazon hopes to make its mark with the 3D screen. The phones would also be 4G LTE-equipped, packing Qualcomm chips. Still, the e-commerce giant would also have to negotiate contracts with wireless carriers to provide cellular service to its smartphones. Carriers, in turn, often resort to complex device subsidy packages to market their two-year contracts. It remains unclear which company would supply Amazon's wireless service. Wi-Fi-enabled Kindle Fire tablets, for instance, run on AT&T.
It also remains unknown at this point what Amazon's new lineup of devices would be called or what their retail prices would be. The company did say on several occasions, however, that it prefers selling its Kindle products at cost and profit from the services and users buy content for said devices, so the smartphones may benefit from the same treatment.
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