Amazon set to unveil new smartphone

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon.com plans to introduce a smartphone later this month, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, plunging the world’s largest online retailer deeper into the competitive mobile-device market.

Amazon tweeted Wednesday that it was holding an event in Seattle on June 18 hosted by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos for a product unveiling. The post included a picture of a black, thin device with Amazon’s name in silver emblazoned on it. Mary Osako, a spokeswoman for Amazon, didn’t return a call for comment.

A smartphone from Amazon would ramp up its rivalry with Apple, which makes the iPhone. The companies are increasingly going head-to-head in devices such as tablets and in Web services including online entertainment, as they strive to be digital gateways to consumers. Mobile is central to that effort as more people carry gadgets and do their computing on the go.

“This is a play by Amazon to get a stake in the most ubiquitous device category there is,” said Jan Dawson, a technology-industry analyst who runs research and advisory firm Jackdaw.

Amazon announced the June 18 event with a note to customers, developers and press to request an invitation to attend. A video accompanying the tweet showed people moving their heads around to view a device that’s just out of sight, shot from different angles, implying the phone may have 3-D viewing capabilities, a feature reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg News reported in 2012 that Amazon was developing a smartphone that would run on Google’s Android operating system. Foxconn International Holdings was working with Amazon on the device, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Amazon is entering a smartphone market that grew 21 percent last year to $338.3 billion, according to researcher IDC. The market by shipments in the first quarter was dominated by Samsung Electronics, which has 31 percent market share, and Apple, with 15 percent.

A smartphone would give Amazon a wider range of hardware devices to bolster its diversification into digital books, songs and movies. The company’s gadget lineup already includes the Kindle e-reader and Kindle Fire tablets. In April, Amazon introduced a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, called Fire TV.

The company, with razor-thin profit margins that have raised hackles among investors, has shown that it’s willing to lose money on hardware with the goal of later making money from sales of entertainment content like videos and music, or purchases from Amazon’s store.

“Amazon’s play here isn’t to make a ton of money off smartphone sales; it’s to get people to spend more money with Amazon as a whole,” said Dawson.

Bezos has been pouring cash into new initiatives. Amazon’s first-quarter expenses rose 23 percent, the same rate as revenue growth. With investments anticipated to continue for the foreseeable future, the company forecast an operating loss for the current quarter of $55 million to $455 million. A smartphone would illustrate how far Amazon has moved from its roots as an online book seller.

As it preps the new device, the company is entangled in a public spat with one of the world’s biggest book publishers, Hachette Book Group. Amazon has blocked the sale of some titles as part of the dispute during negotiations between the two companies.

More in Herald Business Journal

Happy accident leads Edmonds couple to make Hunniwater drink

The latest line of energy drinks by Karin and Eric… Continue reading

Voters are on the sidelines as the port fills a vacant seat

Troy McClelland resigned from the Port of Everett commission too late for an election before 2019.

Don’t rely just on productivity measurements to value a worker

The controversies swirling around the productivity data at the national level are… Continue reading

Career Fair planned next week at Tulalip Resort Casino

The Snohomish County Career Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2… Continue reading

American Farmland Trust president to speak in Mount Vernon

American Farmland Trust President John Piotti plans to give a talk about… Continue reading

Agent joins Re/Max in Smokey Point

Dennis Roland joined the Re/Max Elite Smokey Point office. The Navy veteran… Continue reading

In space capsules today, little room but big improvement

Boeing and SpaceX are relying on a tried-and-true design as they each develop new spacecraft.

First Boeing KC-46 delivery to Air Force slides into 2018

Certification milestones have been missed, and problems have emerged in flight test, a source says.

SEC reveals hack, possibility info was used for trading

The regulatory agency said the hack was discovered last year.

Most Read