The online retailer marked its entry into the smartphone business with the Fire Phone, which helps users consume large amounts of videos, books and other multimedia. A new feature called Firefly will allow users to photograph barcodes on products instantly placing them on a shopping list. Firefly can even recognize music, movies, artwork on a wall and even TV shows. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demonstrated this feature using HBO show Game of Thrones.
"The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products -- and take action in seconds.," said Bezos.
The 3D imaging technology lets users change the perspective on images by tilting the phone in different directions, rather than creating a "pop out" effect. Users can scroll through a webpage or open online menus just by tilting the phone.
The 32GB Fire Phone will be available for $199 with a two-year AT&T contract, the only carrier to offer the phone. This is similar to the price charged by AT&T for the 16GB iPhone 5S and Samsung's Galaxy S5.
Francisco Jeronimo, a mobile devices analyst at market research firm IDC, said that there have been similar gesture controls seen on Samsung phones but not many people used them.
"Unless the experience is extraordinary it can come across as a gimmick. I'd be surprised if Amazon has succeeded when Samsung hasn't, but I'll need to try it," he said.
Amazon is entering the smartphone market just as sales begin to mature. But smartphone use for online activities, like shopping, is beginning to increase, something that will benefit the online retailer. It will be a big risk for the company as others, including Google -- which bought Motorola's handset unit only to sell it for a loss -- have struggled to sell a device that can compete with Apple and Samsung in the U.S.
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