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b5amazon Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the Fire phone during a Wednesday news conference in Seattle.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the Fire phone during a Wednesday news conference in Seattle.
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Published: Thursday, 6/19/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

Amazon unveils 3-D Fire Phone

Device will allow consumers to find, buy more products

BLADE NEWS SERVICES

SEATTLE — Amazon.com Inc. jumped into the smart-phone market Wednesday with Fire Phone, a device that has audio and object recognition technology that seeks to make it easier for consumers to locate and purchase products and services from the nation’s largest ecommerce company.

The new Fire phone also adds such features as the ability to render images in 3-D.

The Fire phone doesn’t differ much from other smart phones on the market and shares many characteristics found in other Amazon devices. For instance, the phone will have X-Ray for supplemental content about movies and TV shows and Mayday for live tech support.

Amazon’s new Firefly feature allows users to take a photo of an object, such as a toaster or a soup can, and get more information about it, including a way to purchase it through Amazon.

Company officials said the phone can recognize more than 100 million items, with consumers simply taking a picture of a book, DVD, or other product to link back to Amazon’s store.

The phone will also have audio recognition for movies and TV shows, which Amazon also carries.

Amazon shares rose 2.7 percent to $334.38 at the close in New York, leaving them down 16 percent this year.

Many of the phone’s features have been available elsewhere as separate apps. Sony Corp., for instance, has a tool for getting information over the Internet by snapping a bar code or a landmark. Firefly goes further, though, by incorporating audio recognition.

The new Amazon Fire Phone has the ability to render images in 3-D. The new Amazon Fire Phone has the ability to render images in 3-D.
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“It goes back to the mission of Amazon, which is to sell you stuff,” said Ramon Llamas of the research firm IDC. “It reduces the number of steps it takes to buy things on the phone.”

The phone will have a screen measuring 4.7 inches diagonally. That’s smaller than leading Android phone, but larger than Apple Inc.’s iPhone. CEO Jeff Bezos calls the Fire’s size ideal for one-handed use.

The phone will be available July 25 in the United States exclusively through AT&T Inc. People can start ordering it Wednesday.

Prices are comparable to other leading high-end phones, but the Fire will have double the storage. It will cost $200 for a base model with 32 gigabytes and $300 for 64 gigabytes. Both require two-year service contracts. Without contracts, the phones will cost $650 and $750.

The phone will come with 12 months of Prime membership, which is normally $99 a year. Existing Prime members will get their term extended.

Competing won’t be easy, though, particularly because Fire’s prices aren’t lower, Mr. Llamas said. With tablets, Amazon has beaten Apple and its iPads on price.

Amazon is also arriving late to a tightly contested marketplace. Samsung Group and Apple dominate worldwide smart-phone sales with a combined 46 percent share, according to IDC. In the United States, Apple leads with more than 37 percent, with Samsung at nearly 29 percent.

The decision to make AT&T the exclusive carrier is similar to the approach Apple took when it unveiled its first iPhone in 2007.



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