By Joe Levi | May 23, 2013 7:17 AM
Rumors are surfacing about Amazon playing with the idea of finally bringing a smartphone to market. Why wouldn’t they? They’ve already got some basic eBook readers, and some devices that should rightly be called “tablets”. They don’t have a phone, not yet anyway. So what’s this we’re hearing about an Amazon 3D phone?
According to sources that don’t want to be named, not only is Amazon working on a phone, but it might include a 3D user interface as well. I know what you’re saying: we already had 3D phones, and they flopped — big time. You’re right, but let’s look at what went wrong, and what Amazon could do to avoid failure this time around.
The State of 3D Today
Most “big” movies these days are released in 3D. Some are significantly enhanced by the extra dimension, others employ cheap gimmickry to make it “worth” the extra several bucks per ticket. 3D isn’t easy to do without requiring the user to wear clunky, 50′s era glasses. Translating that to a home theater has proven difficult. Who wants to wear a special pair of glasses while watching your home TV? Some 3D technologies don’t require the wearing of funky glasses, but those have their own set of challenges: limited viewing angles chief among them. Underscoring the point is the fact that television manufacturers have backed off from 3D and are instead focusing on adding extra colors or extra pixels for better looking images and higher resolutions.
Back to mobile technology. Other than the very few 3D smartphones from yesteryear, we haven’t heard much about any new models employing any kind of 3D technology, whether in their camera or their screen. Remarkably, the only consumer electronic devices to be realizing any level of success in the 3D market are 3D printers and the Nintendo 3DS portable gaming system.
Amazon 3D Phone
Why would Amazon be working on a 3D-enabled smartphone? Sources close to Amazon say the technology to be used by this product will feature retina-tracking to help images appear to float above the screen at a “wide variety of viewing angles”. Let’s not forget, however, Amazon isn’t a hardware company. Unlike HTC, Samsung, or Apple, Amazon doesn’t exist to make hardware. They’re a content distribution company. You may associate them with books and other items delivered to your door, but they also love digital content. Their Kindle line of products were made to take out the need to stock, inventory, warehouse, package, and ship “tangible” items (which is relatively expensive), and instead allow all that to be done digitally. Amazon even provides the back-end services for competing content delivery companies like Netflix.
3D phones have already been tried, and they have already failed. Why would Amazon even try?
Amazon has movies, TV episodes, and games that they distribute. All of which — especially the latter — are 3D capable, they just need a device for customers to be able to consume 3D content with. Why not a tablet? Amazon already has several tablet-sized devices for playing videos and reading books, but they don’t have anything pocket-sized. Once you factor in portable gaming, Amazon could easily compete against Nintendo for the 3D platform in your pocket. Video could also be able to be presented in 3D, which would one-up Nintendo for utility, not to mention its smartphone abilities as well.
How could Amazon release a 3D phone that wouldn’t fall flat on its face? It’s all about content, and making that content look good. If they can pull both of those off right out of the gate, Amazon has the potential to rival Nintendo in the portable gaming space, and be a worth-while competitor for more traditional smartphones at the same time. It’s a lofty goal, but if anyone can do it, Amazon can.