Amazon is trying really hard to get people excited about a “super awesome” new device they're releasing later this month. A new video tease even shows a bunch of talking heads gawking in amazement at the unseen gadget, with Amazon’ CEO Jeff Bezos promising to reveal all on 18 June.
Despite the theatrical secrecy of the video, it seems a safe bet that the device in question is a smartphone with some sort of 3D capabilities. Various tech outlets have been reporting this for months, with BGR even posting leaked pictures of a device which uses 3D effects and head tracking capabilities to create a new interface for smartphones.
Amazon’s video tease seems to reinforce this, with one amazed customer saying “it moved with me!” while others bob their heads about like owls trying to establish depth perception (this is why owls – and humans too apparently – do this) before declaring that the device is “pretty damn intuitive”.
This last comment is 'pretty damn important' if Amazon really is introducing a new way to navigate smartphones. Users reportedly control the device by tilting it from side to side to display additional information (eg tilting left in the email app might reveal icons to delete, reply, archive, etc) with sketchier rumours suggesting eye tracking sensors allows navigation just by looking.
If cleverly implemented this could be a big step forward, combatting smartphones’ ever-larger screens by making them easier to navigate with a single hand (and head). However, it certainly doesn’t sound “intuitive” – it sounds like users would need to get used to the system; learning what extra information a tilt might reveal and refraining from rolling their eyes in case they close an app by accident.
However it’s controlled though, an Amazon smartphone would bring the company into greater conflict with Apple. It’s already taken fairly successful pot shots at the iPad and Apple TV with the Kindle Fire range and Fire TV, and in terms of providing digital content (music, movies, TV, etc) Amazon is iTune’s nearest competitor.
And these media sales pale in comparison to the market for the devices themselves, with global digital music revenue totalling $6 billion in 2013 while global smartphone revenue soared to $338.3bn. There’s a lot of for Amazon to fight for - but it won't be easy.