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Tomorrow, online mega-retailer Amazon will be holding a major press event in Seattle, an event that is expected to see the official unveiling of its long-awaited smartphone. Running the same forked version of Android that powers its line of Kindle tablets, the Amazon smartphone is also supposedly armed with a number of face-tracking cameras to provide a kind of glasses-free 3D – and a new report today says that wireless carrier AT&T will have the exclusive right to sell it.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, “people familiar with the matter” claim that AT&T will be the exclusive carrier to offer the Amazon smartphone, which extends the relationship between the two companies. Currently, AT&T is the carrier that provides data service to Amazon’s cellular-capable Kindle Fire tablets. That relationship alone is enough to make this news seem like the real deal.

More than that, however, is AT&T’s past as the go-to carrier for new and buzzworthy handsets. Let’s not forget that back in the early days of the iPhone, there was only one place to go to get them: AT&T. That relationship proved to be somewhat toxic for both AT&T and Apple; users and Apple raged at AT&T for poor service, while the carrier had to scramble to beef up its network infrastructure to handle the huge influx of iPhone customers. The carrier chafed at taking orders from Steve Jobs, and by all accounts, the two companies were more or less happy to be rid of each other when the exclusivity period ended a few years ago.

With the news that AT&T will be the exclusive carrier for the Amazon smartphone, we have Jeff Bezos in the Steve Jobs position, the mad billionaire who tells his partners what to do and how it’s going to be. However, as interesting as the company’s handset sounds, chances are good that its impact will be a far cry from the kind of splash made by the iPhone’s debut. You could give us all the face-tracking, glasses-free 3D you want; it’s still going to be a modestly specced, heavily modified version of Android, and there are more than enough of those kinds of smartphones to go around.

That is, of course, unless Amazon throws us all a curveball and unveils something we don’t expect. We’ll know more once the event gets underway tomorrow. If AT&T is the exclusive carrier, what will Amazon have to offer with its phone to get you to switch, if you don’t have their service already?

[Source: WSJ]


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