Amazon smartphone

Amazon is poised to launch its first smartphone today, and if the rumours are correct, it will have an innovative eye-tracking system to create a glasses-free 3D display.

That’s all well and good, but is there room for yet another smartphone player in this crowded market? Here are five hurdles the newcomer will have to clear in order to be a success.

1. Apps.

It’s been said many a time, but content is king. This means the Amazon phone will need to offer the apps people want. It isn’t enough to rely on the existing Amazon Appstore, since the apps in it are all optimised for the Kindle Fire tablets. And anyone who bought an early Android tablet will know how this works in reverse: you end up with a smartphone app running on a big tablet screen. Unless developers have been given the specs early in order to update their apps, it could be a very empty store for Amazon smartphone owners.

2. Price

Handset prices have dropped considerably over the last year or so and you can buy a decent Android smartphone for under £100 now. It’s hard to compete unless you subsidise the price, and it’s fairly certain that Amazon has been doing this - or at least making only the tiniest of margins - on its Kindle Fire tablets in order to lure buyers into the fold.

3. 3D is a gimmick

If it isn’t cheap, then Amazon will have to pin its hopes on people wanting the 3D screen enough to pay extra for it. However, this is going to be tough as 3D has been a failure for TVs, and not for the first time.

There’s a reason why Apple, Samsung, Nokia and other manufacturers aren’t producing smartphones with 3D screens: there’s no demand. Presumably, Amazon will sell the idea of enhancing the shopping experience, but

3. Fire OS

Since this is Amazon’s first smartphone, it’s an unknown quantity to most people. In fact, although the Kindle Fire has been relatively successful, the Fire operating system isn’t nearly as familiar to people as Android or iOS.

Going back to the first point, while Fire OS is based on Android, you won’t be able to access the Google Play store, nor get the official Google apps such as Maps, YouTube, Gmail and more. Which begs the question: why not just buy an Android smartphone?

4. Limited availability & accessories

We fully expect that Amazon will sell the smartphone only in the US, expanding to other countries later – but perhaps only if things go well in America. It’s the same situation for Fire TV, which is still not available in the UK.

Finally, buyers will want accessories to go with their new phone. Aside from any official case, will third-party manufacturers get on board and produce cases and other accessories? We'll have to wait and see.

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