Amazon is teasing a mysterious event on June 18. Is a Bezos-phone on the way?

June 4, 2014

(Amazon)

Get ready, people: Amazon is preparing to unveil a mystery device later this month, on June 18. Judging from the promo video the company has released, it looks as though the rumors about Amazon's holographic tech may be true. The video shows people tilting their head one way and the other, allllmost as though they're viewing a floating 3D object from different angles (without funky glasses).

Meanwhile, Amazon is giving people just a small peek at the bezel of the device, which is rounded and black.

At the bottom of the announcement page, Amazon offers a questionnaire for those who want to attend. In it are a few telling questions, such as: Are you interested in developing apps that utilize a novel type of sensor? and Do you have machine learning experience? Both offer hints as to the kind of technology embedded in the device.

Reports suggest that the phone, if it is a phone, will contain a number of retina-tracking sensors to help create the 3D effect. Skeptics say it'd be hard to design apps for a 3D display and that in the wrong circumstances, it'd potentially ruin your privacy. (I don't need to see that you're searching for Justin Bieber bobbleheads on Amazon, thanks.) But you can also imagine how cool it might be in certain scenarios — like conducting a video call, or trying to get your bearings with a 3D map.

If Amazon really is getting into handsets, it'd be a big deal for the industry. As we've seen with publishers, Amazon has a great deal of market power, and would be a force to reckon with when it comes to negotiating with the likes of AT&T, Verizon and other wireless carriers. What's more, Amazon has long been willing to lose money on its devices — cf. the Kindle — as a way to encourage adoption. Could a similar pricing strategy shake up the cellular market? We'll find out in a few weeks.

(Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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