Amazon is prepared to make a big splash next week with the announcement of a new phone. For a device that's probably going to be released in less than seven days, the company has done a good job of keeping the lid on its secrets. The number of things we think we know about the device is extremely limited: it will have five front-facing cameras to facilitate a 3D interface, it has a 4.7" screen running at 720P, it will probably be relatively inexpensive, and... that's about it. We don't even know the official name, although we suspect it'll be called some variation of the Amazon Fire Phone.
Since most people in the United States already have a smartphone, and the new device appears to be a lower spec phone, why would users switch from their iOS, Android, or WIndows-based phones to the Amazon eco-system, and what can the company do to lure people over?
Be their own carrier
Right now, it's not clear what countries the Amazon Fire Phone will be available in, let alone what carriers will be supported. It's possible that Amazon will release different versions of the phone for different carriers, but what if they shake things up and become their own carrier? People have grown tired of dealing with the big carriers like AT&T and Verizon, and may welcome the chance to deal with a company that's known for their customer service. Amazon could also tie a monthly discount to users that sign up for Amazon Prime, further locking you into their ecosystem.
It's true that the company doesn't have the cell tower infrastructure to do this alone; they'd have to partner with another carrier, similar to how Virgin Mobile does things, but this would let Amazon do things their way and tie a low monthly price to the rumored low-budget phone.
Free data plans
If the company decides not to run their own carrier business, the Fire Phone could still make big waves by offering unlimited data plans to customers. Let's face it: Amazon is all about finding ways to get people hooked on their content. Just today, they launched Amazon Prime Music, letting users stream over a million songs for free. They don't care when or how you're consuming their content, they just want to make sure you're doing it, and a free data plan would lure a lot of users over to the device. It may only run on 3G speeds, but free is still free.
This may sound crazy on the surface, but keep in mind that Amazon provided free data on their Kindle e-readers, allowing users to download books over Whispernet. Users were also able to use the experimental web browser to surf the web over the network, all free of charge. While the experience of browsing the web on an e-ink display left a lot to be desired, it shows that there is precedence for a move like this.
If Amazon doesn't provide all-out unlimited data, they could still make some waves by providing unlimited data to all of their services. This would be another good way to lock users into their ecosystem, while still giving them a great service.
Tether to the Kindle Fire tablets
In the vein of keeping everything in the Kindle Fire ecosystem, Amazon would be smart to allow users to tether their Kindle Fire tablets with the new Fire Phone without the need for any special software or any extra costs. In addition, the process needs to be as easy to do as using a Google Chromecast device. People who are already heavy Kindle Fire users will love the ability to get on the Internet with their tablets from anywhere they want, and if it's combined with any of the previous suggestions, could have customers ditching their current smart phones in record time.
3D movies through Amazon Prime
Of all of the above options, this one seems like the most likely to be implemented. The hardware is already rumored to have a glasses-free 3D interface, so let's take it one step further and stream movies from Amazon's service in native 3D. A lot of people don't see the need for 3D movies, but if the phone can do it natively and without glasses, it would get a lot of people interested in the device.
The recent teaser video that Amazon released has people looking at the device and claiming how "awesome" it is, so it's possible that the effects are more than just a basic 3D interface. Movies would just make sense.
One thing's for sure: Amazon has done a good job marketing their hardware, so despite the low system specs of the upcoming phone, I wouldn't be surprised if they have a few tricks up their sleeve for the upcoming release. We'll find out a lot more this Wednesday.
Image via BGR