Get ready, Amazon's rumored smartphone is near

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) could further deepen its hold on and connection to shoppers with the release of a new proprietary smartphone. The online retailer is expected to announce the product on Wednesday at an event in Seattle, reports The New York Times.

Amazon, of course, has always invested in technology. From its much discussed drones to the use of robots in warehouses, the retailer is using technology to further strengthen its hold on online shoppers and its reach in individual retail categories. And, of course, there was the Kindle, the e-book that decimated bricks-and-mortar book stores and makes the prospect of an Amazon smartphone both daunting and inevitable.

Mobile is helping to tip the scales, as location-based marketing will make having a handset and operating system in the hands of shoppers far more crucial.

Amazon's Dash introduced earlier this year is a peek into what's possible with an Amazon phone. Dash is a handheld device that includes both a microphone and a barcode scanner. Shoppers can speak into it or scan an item's barcode to automatically add that product to their AmazonFresh shopping list. Dash uses a Wi-Fi connection to send the information to the company.

An Amazon smartphone could act as a Dash-like device in addition to tying together Amazon's other devices and services including Kindle, Prime and the new Amazon Fire TV set-top that streams content directly to a user's TV.

Amazon did issue an announcement today touting the growth of its app store, where selection has nearly tripled in the past year and now includes more than 240,000 apps and games. The retailer did not confirm the upcoming announcement regarding a smartphone, according to The New York Times.

Much like the many rumors that surround Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) going into any public event, this one could be just that, a rumor. There was no announcement as expected of a large-screen iPhone from Apple at its Wordwide Developer Conference in last month, and Amazon could remain on the smartphone sidelines for a while longer.

But it won't likely be forever, as the retailer has proven itself capable of disrupting retail in the digital and physical realms through the release of new portable technology.

For more:
-See this New York Times article
-See this Amazon press release

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