NEW YORK — Hold the phone: Amazon wants to burrow even deeper into your life. The retailer is expected to introduce a smartphone Wednesday at an event in Seattle, a long-rumored project that aims to close any remaining gap between the impulse to buy and the completed act.
Amazon has spent the last several years furiously investing billions of dollars on multiple fronts: constructing warehouses all over the country to deliver goods as fast as possible, building devices as varied as tablets and set-top boxes, and creating and licensing entertainment to stock those devices.
It all adds up to a wildly ambitious venture without precedent in modern merchandising. Wall Street has generally cheered as the competitors — including Walmart, eBay, Apple, and Google — regard these activities with increasing unease. Customers, meanwhile, are propelling Amazon toward the rarefied ranks of companies with revenue of $100 billion.
The phone is the last and most crucial link in this colossal enterprise. It is a singular gamble for a company that, for all its technology components, is still primarily a merchant. Because even the smartest tech companies have trouble with phones.
A Google smartphone, the Nexus One, failed to catch on. Google next bought Motorola and then dumped it. BlackBerry, once the dominant smartphone maker, is struggling to survive. Microsoft’s Windows Phone has less than 3 percent of the global market. Last year, a Facebook phone stumbled.
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