Oh, carrier exclusives, how we have missed thee. In this enlightened age when the flagship phones from Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola are all available on the Big Four American carriers, it's so easy to forget that some devices aren't. And just in case you needed reminding, it looks like the Amazon phone expected at tomorrow's press event is going to be an AT&T exclusive. So sayeth the Wall Street Journal, which tends to be spot-on with Amazon news.
That would be frustrating, but not altogether surprising. AT&T Wireless is Amazon's exclusive 3G/LTE partner for the Kindle Fire tablets in the United States, so the relationship between the two companies is already pretty solid. Launching a new phone on what's technically a distinct platform (Amazon's Android-based Fire OS and branded Appstore) will probably require more support and infrastructure than other devices, at least initially. Whether or not the phone would remain an AT&T exclusive is probably a less pressing issue than the phone's viability as a product - look to the HTC First, AKA "The Facebook Phone," for an example of a platform-dependent Android device that flopped hard. Then again, that was also an AT&T exclusive...
The rumor mill on Amazon's phone says that it includes a multitude of front-facing cameras designed for head or eye tracking instead of photography, aiding in a 3D visual interface. That's certainly a novel approach, and if Amazon hopes to compete with conventional Android phones and iPhones, it may need it. I would also speculate that Amazon's phone may utilize some kind of non-standard payment model, possibly including access to Amazon Prime. Amazon's announcement event is tomorrow in Seattle.
Source: The Wall Street Journal