Does the world really need another smartphone? According to online retailer Amazon.com (AMZN), the answer is “YES!”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of this year. The retailer has been demonstrating versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and its hometown Seattle in recent weeks. People briefed on the company’s plans have been told that Amazon aims to announce the phone by the end of June and begin shipping phones by the end of September, ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Hoping to differentiate itself in an overcrowded marketplace, the Amazon phone will supposedly have a screen capable of displaying seemingly three-dimensional images without special glasses. It will employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram.

According to the article, the design and pricing of the smartphone are unclear and Amazon may alter its launch plans due to performance or other concerns. It also isn’t known what operating system the phone will use or which wireless carriers Amazon is working with. The Kindle Fire tablet and the Fire TV set-top box both rely on Google Inc.’s Android mobile-operating system. But Amazon created its own app store for the Kindle devices and does not offer access to Google’s Play Store. AT&T Inc. provides service for Kindle tablets and e-readers.

Amazon has told one of its suppliers it is anticipating mass production of the device later this month, with an initial order of 600,000 units, according to a person briefed on the plans. Also, Amazon has been inviting select app and software developers to hotels to demonstrate the handset in suites protected by security guards, two people familiar with the matter said.

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Wayne Thorp
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is editor of Computerized Investing and a vice president and the senior financial analyst at The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). He is also the program manager for AAII's Stock Investor Pro fundamental stock screening and research database program and is on the advisory boards of AAII's Stock Superstars Report and Dividend Investing newsletters. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a 1997 honors graduate of DePaul University in Chicago. Wayne's interests include stock screening, technical analysis and charting, social media and tech gadgets. However, in the summer he'd prefer to be hip-deep in northern Michigan's Manistee River fly-fishing for rainbow trout.

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