(USA TODAY) Amazon today joined the smartphone wars, with its own device, the Amazon Fire, a device designed to let you talk on the phone, take great photos and sell you more products.
The big feature innovation on Fire is "Firefly," a new tab that can recognize "over 100 million" items from the Fire cameras and microphone, everything from QR codes and web URLs, to the names of books, DVDs and household products, to the names of songs and titles of TV shows, like the Shazam app.
It's being sold as a way to point the phone at anything, and either learn more about it--or buy it on the spot. At the press conference, Amazon said it would work with popular calorie counting and tracking app MyFitnessPal. Use Firefly with the app to point at food, and Fire will tell you the nutritional value of the selection.
The phone is Amazon's latest foray into hardware, following its successful line of KIndle e-readers and media players.
Fire has a 4.7 inch LCD screen, with a 2.2 GHZ processor, 2 GM of RAM and a 13 megapixel rear facing camera.
At the press conference, Bezos touted the camera specs of the Fire phone, and said users of the phone would get unlimited photo storage on Amazon's Cloud Drive. (It currently offers 5 GB for free.)
He sold the phone as a vehicle to read books from the KIndle library, and watch movies, via Amazon's Prime offering, which charges $99 yearly for two-day free shipping, and streaming access to music, movies and TV shows.
With Fire, Amazon will join industry giants Apple, Samsung, Google, Blackberry, HTC and Nokia in the smartphone race, which is dominated by Samsung and Apple.
Robert Peck, an analyst with SunTrust, believes a hit phone for Amazon could make a huge impact on the bottom line, to the tune of $2 billion. Peck estimates sales of 2.7 million phones, mostly to Amazon's Prime customers. "We assume that each new customer buys 10 items per year," from the phone, Peck says, at $50 each.