Is Amazon getting into smartphones? If the latest DigiTimes rumor can be believed, they should be launching in the first half of 2014. The leak is from camera-maker Primax Electronics, which reports getting an order for a lot of cameras to go into such phones.

Mediabistro’s Appnewser has a few more details. Reportedly there are two models, a high-end and a regular one, and they’re going to have “as many as three front facing cameras for motion sensor technology, meaning you won’t have to touch the screen to interact with the device.” Intriguing. Of course, they will almost certainly ship with some version of Amazon’s nonstandard Android-based OS. Wonder how hackable they’ll be?

As the book Dogfight pointed out, lots of people consume media on their smartphones these days—after all, smartphones fit in a pocket where tablets don’t. And since only Amazon Android devices can (officially) watch Amazon Prime streaming content, that means no one on the Android phone side can watch those movies, hence they don’t have as much incentive to sign up for Prime. Conversely, existing Prime customers might see a big incentive to snag one an Amazon smartphone. It’s not hard to see why Amazon might want to get a piece of that action.

As an ex-Palm Pre engineer pointed out, it’s almost impossible for newcomers to the game to launch a smartphone—but then, before the Kindle it was thought impossible for an e-ink e-book reader to make a difference in the way people bought and read books, and just look at how that turned out. And I seem to think nobody saw much demand for a 7” tablet before the Kindle Fire. So if anyone can do it, Amazon can.


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