SEATTLE (CNNMoney) — Amazon enter the smartphone business Wednesday — and make a big splash doing it.
At an event in Seattle, the retail giant unveiled the Fire Phone, a high-end smartphone. It is the first smartphone Amazon has produced on its own.
“Can we build a better phone for our most engaged customers?” asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the event. “Can we build a better phone for Amazon Prime members? Well, i’m excited to tell you that the answer is yes.”
The Fire Phone includes aluminum buttons, steel connectors, and a 4.7-inch LCD high-definition display. It has a lightning-fast quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 13 Megapixel camera.
“We picked 4.7 as the perfect size for one-handed use,” Bezos said.
The Fire Phone is widely expected to produce 3-D images without users having to wear special glasses. The device is expected to use small cameras mounted on the face to track users’ facial movements, and it will be capable of changing the information it displays as it’s tilted from side to side. The smartphone will be released initially with AT&T as the exclusive service carrier, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Amazon on Monday proclaimed that its app store has tripled in size over the past year, now boasting over 240,000 apps and games. But that still places it well behind Apple and Google, which each boast more than a million mobile apps for their platforms.
Amazon is looking to the smartphone in part as a means to drive additional subscriptions to its Amazon Prime specialty service, users of which spend far more money on the site than non-Prime users.
Amazon Prime users already get access to a streaming video service that competes with Netflix. Amazon made the service even more attractive to mobile device users last week, launching a Spotify-like streaming music service for Prime customers.
Beyond media consumption, the phone will give Amazon additional customer data with which to make targeted product recommendations and offer personalized deals.
A smartphone, Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said earlier this month, offers the company “a way to make sure customers think of Amazon not just a few times a month, or even a few times a week, but dozens of times a day, creating the opportunity for Amazon to convert as many of those interactions into purchases as possible.”
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