amazon-kindleThe rumors about a possible smartphone from Amazon are, if anything, persistent. As far back as 2012 there were rumblings from Bloomberg that Amazon was developing a smartphone that was to be manufactured by Foxconn, the same Chinese company that also makes Apple’s iPhone. Bloomberg’s assertions where later bolstered by the Wall Street Journal saying that its sources reckon the phone would be released in early 2013. Early 2013 came and went, as did late 2013 and early 2014. Now the WSJ has revived the Amazon smartphone rumor, this time suggesting that Amazon has plans to announce the phone in June and begin shipments in September.

Rather than release a “normal” handset which could get lost in the noise of the busy smartphone market, Amazon is reported to be releasing a phone that is capable of displaying pseudo-3D images without the need for glasses. To do this the phone uses retina-tracking technology via four front-facing cameras, or possibly some special sensors. It is thought the resulting images are similar to holograms.

We have no plans to offer a phone this year. If we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free.

According to those familiar with Amazon’s plans, the company has actually already started demonstrating the handset to developers in its hometown of Seattle  as well as in San Francisco. Amazon is no stranger to the hardware market with its range of Kindle eBook readers, its range of Kindle Fire tablets and its just announced Fire TV media box. The smartphone market is dominated by Apple and Samsung, which between them, have almost half of the market. However if Amazon does bring something unique, like the 3D display, then it could prove to be a winner for the company.

Over the last two years of rumors it has also been mooted that Amazon could offer its smartphone for free, without a carrier contract but with an Amazon Prime subscription. What does Amazon have to say about all these rumors? At the moment not a lot, but in September 2013 Amazon took the unusual step of directly denying a rumor that it is working on a smartphone, and more specifically that it planned to give away the handset for free. In the statement released to the Wall Street Journal an unnamed Amazon spokesperson wrote, “We have no plans to offer a phone this year. If we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free.”

What do you think? Are Amazon going to launch a phone? Could this be a case of there is no smoke without fire?

Gary Sims
Gary has been a tech writer for over a decade and specializes in open source systems. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Information Systems. He has many years of experience in system design and development as well as system administration, system security and networking protocols. He also knows several programming languages, as he was previously a software engineer for 10 years.