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Amazon launches ‘Fire’ smartphone in Germany, Britain

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US online giant Amazon said Monday it was selling its “Fire” 3D smartphone in Germany and Britain as it cut the price of the handset for US customers.

Amazon released statements for its British and German websites for the handset, which was unveiled in June for US customers.

The price was cut from $199 to less than $1 for US customers opting for a two-year contract with AT&T. Similar options will be available in Germany for one euro through Deutsche Telekom and in Britain for no upfront cost in partnership with the carrier O2.

Amazon also trimmed the cost of the smartphone without a contract to $449, from $649 at the launch.

No sales figures for the phone have been disclosed, but Amazon is facing a fiercely competitive environment and a pending launch of a new line of iPhones from Apple.

In June, company founder Jeff Bezos unveiled the device, Amazon’s first smartphone of its own, which has a 4.7-inch display, a high-definition camera and Amazon’s free help service.

The phone also ties in to Amazon’s vast array of other offerings, serving as a platform for digital content such as books, films and music and connecting users to the firm’s cloud storage.

Another feature dubbed “Firefly” recognizes things in the real world such as Web and email addresses, phone numbers, bar codes, and millions of products, “and lets you take action in seconds” to buy a product or create a music playlist, for example.

As a financial inducement, consumers who buy the phone will get one year of “Amazon Prime,” which includes free delivery of goods and access to digital offerings such as video and streaming music.

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Analysts have given a mixed reaction, saying Amazon did not appear to offer a compelling reason to consumers to switch, but that its phone could appeal to loyal customers.

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