Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has put a 50 second spot on YouTube showing people weaving and bobbing their heads above a device that mostly stays off screen, with the compulsory oohs and aahs you would expect during the buildup of a new product launch. We’ll have to wait another two weeks to know for sure, but it certainly seems like the eye-tracking 3D smartphone that has been creating buzz since last year.
While the device is mostly hidden from view, the corners that are visible for a couple of frames match the images leaked last month. Granted, those images are pretty standard smartphone fare, but it adds a bit more credibility to the rumors.
New smartphone won’t just be a low-end alternative to the iPhone
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been reportedly working on a smartphone for more than a year, a natural move considering its line of Kindle Fire tablets, but Kindle’s compete mostly by being cheaper than an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy. But a 3D portable screen means that Amazon is content to go after the lower end of the market, and is instead trying to compete head-to-head by providing unique features. There’s also been speculation that Amazon will release two different models, one with and one without the 3D eye-tracking feature.
Amazon needs to move beyond gaming for its 3D smartphone
It’s not clear how the 3D smartphone would work, and if moving your head around to control the phone replaces finger gestures instead of complementing them it could become a serious pain (and even more dangerous for drivers), but anytime you include a new mode of interaction it opens the door for app developers to surprise you. The most obvious use is for gaming, but if that’s all the 3D screen is good for then the success of a combination smartphone/ Nintendo 3DS will depend on Amazon.com, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) ability to get talented game developers on board. Bezos is probably setting his sights higher.
If Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) can also find a killer productivity app to sell its smartphone to business people it could become a serious contender, stealing market share away from the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) duopoly that had seemed so solid. Then the only question would be how long it takes for rival smartphone manufacturers to engineer comparable features of their own.