Jeff Bezos took to the stage earlier today to announce Amazon's first entrant into the highly competitive smartphone industry, the Fire Phone. Not only was the presentation loaded with some of the shiny new features of the handset and Fire OS, all meant for the press to disseminate to potential buyers, but there were also a few unusually blunt efforts to attract developers. In the midst of demonstrating Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, portions of the presentation were focused on explaining that developers would be able to extend these platform features in their own apps.
Update: Here's a video of the full press conference.
We've been hearing about Amazon's potential smartphone for what seems like years, but today it's finally real. At a super-exclusive Amazon event, Jeff Bezos talked about Prime, Kindles, FireTV, customers, some other stuff, and took wraps off of the company's first go at a phone. It is, as you may have guessed, an interesting one. It's packing some rather unique features, as well as top-notch hardware:
4.7" IPS LCD HD display "optimized for one-handed use" – 590 nit brightness, Gorilla Glass
Quad core 2.2GHz processor
Adreno 330 GPU
13MP f/2.0 rear shooter, OIS – instant access button, even with the screen off
Four front-facing cameras for dynamic perspective and a wider field of view
Unlimited photo storage (cloud)
Dual stereo speakers
Ships with non-tangle headphones with flat cable and magnetic buds
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.
If you've been paying attention to the tech rumor mill as of late, you probably know that Amazon has been planning to buff up its Prime subscription service with a musical component. The web retail giant flipped the switch last night, and now Amazon MP3 is Amazon Music. If you already have a subscription to Amazon Prime (which offers free 2-day shipping and access to Netflix-style streaming TV and movies), then you're now subscribed to Prime Music, the service's premium competitor to Spotify and Google Music All Access.
While we know that many of you, our readers, have precisely zero interest in Amazon's tablet hardware (and trust me, our analytics show as much!), the prospect of an Amazon smartphone should arouse curiosity even in the most fervent of Android loyalists. In part because, well, there haven't really been any major commercial smartphone launches for devices not running Android, iOS, BBOS, or Windows Phone in a long, long time. And the latter two are still far from major market forces at this point.
Amazon just can't help giving stuff away lately. After the impressive $22 promotion for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, they've come back with another Amazon Appstore freebie. If you download the five apps at this link (iHeart Radio, Food Network In The Kitchen, Strawberry Shortcake Bake Shop, Dr. Panda's Restaurant, and Don't step the white tile [sic]), your Amazon account will be credited with 1000 Amazon Coins, i.e., ten bucks to spend in the Appstore.
If you want a mid-sized tablet with a high-resolution screen, LTE connectivity, and you don't mind going with Amazon's ecosystem, but don't want to spend much money, today's Gold Box deal should be particularly compelling. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 LTE version (the previous high-end Kindle Fire model, from late 2012) is discounted by $80 today, bringing its price down to $219.
Amazon's Appstore now has access to Rockstar's PS2-era open world crime trilogy, Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, and San Andreas. Unfortunately, it looks like these editions are only for the Kindle Fire tablets and the new Fire TV set-top box. But if you do have any of those Amazon devices, and you buy Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for $6.99, you'll get a whopping 2000 Amazon Coins ($20 in Amazon Appstore credit) for free.
Koush has been busy since leaving Cyanogen Inc. to spend more time working on his various projects. A new update for AllCast is set to roll out soon with an interesting new feature. Users with a Fire TV will be able to stream video to the TV, but route the audio through the phone only. Why would you want to do this? It's private listening mode.
In 1994, Amazon started as an online bookstore. Since then, the company has grown into one of the most important sites on the internet, and the largest online retailer in the world. In 2007, it released the Kindle, its first ebook reader. From there the Kindle line grew to include the Fire and Fire HDX, full blown tablets running Amazon's Android-based Fire OS.
Over the past 20 years, Amazon has broadened its horizons more than most other companies can even dream of.