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Amazon ties new phone to its services

Jun 19, 2014 - The Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Amazon unveiled its first smartphone ever on Wednesday, a device that assists shoppers by using six cameras that can make sense of its user's face and the world around it.

The phone's most significant feature, called "Firefly," employs audio and object recognition technology to identify products and present the user with ways to purchase the items through Amazon. Users can simply snap a photo of a book, for instance, and Firefly will offer up its title and author, give more information about it and provide ways to buy it.

Seven years after Apple's iPhone took over the category, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thinks there is room in the market for something different. Even with the dominant leads that Apple and Samsung hold, Bezos told The Associated Press in an interview, "it's still early" in the wireless device business.

People change phones all the time, he said. It's not about taking market share right away, but making a phone that is ideal for a certain customer and hoping it takes hold.

"We wanted to make a device that's great for one person," Bezos said. "It's like a certain person likes chocolate and another person likes vanilla. The customer can choose."

While the new Fire Phone comes with some features that are practically industry standard -- like a slim profile, a sturdy glass touchscreen, minimalist buttons and one camera for facing toward and away from the user, it breaks new ground in other areas.

The phone's Firefly object recognition feature can identify items and product names captured with the device's camera. It can also pull in useful information such as phone numbers, website addresses.

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