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Amazon Discusses Everything but the Phone in Lead-Up to Phone Launch

You need to read the tea leaves in order to get the phone to take shape.

Amazon’s definition of PR is to discuss its own future in only the obliquest of terms and usually with some variation of “no comment.”

But when it really wants to pump something up — like the expected launch of its phone on Wednesday — the company shifts its press-release machine into overdrive to discuss everything but the matter at hand.

The latest of a string of adjective-laden puffy missives to regurgitate old news arrived on Monday touting all the strides the company has made with its Amazon App Store, where it says it now has 240,000 apps and games, triple the number of a year ago.

While there is little new in the releases themselves and certainly no mention of a phone, the collection of features Amazon has chosen to highlight appears to lay the groundwork for the pitch it will make with the launch.

Because the company chooses to use its own rather than Google’s services, it can’t take advantage of the Google Play store that comes on typical Android phones from Samsung, Sony, Motorola and others. And while Amazon sells some Kindles in stores, it typically sells most devices directly. Consumers also tend to get their phones from their wireless carrier or at a big-box store.

To overcome these hurdles, Amazon has to make the case that all of its services are every bit as good or better than stores operated by Google or Apple. For example, Amazon is touting to developers that its notification service can push alerts to Amazon, iOS and other Android devices.

Another Amazon release last week trumpeted the Mayday customer service feature that it added to Kindle Fire tablets last year. Offering similar access from the phone — with its ubiquitous wireless capability — could appeal to smartphone newbies and others who might like a little extra help.

The Seattle company also recently launched its Prime music service. While the service itself has only older music and has fewer features than rival services such as Spotify and Beats Music, it does come at no additional charge for those that already subscribe to Amazon Prime.

Meanwhile, the company last week sent reporters a copy of Mr Pine’s Purple House, a children’s book that talks about what it’s like to be a purple house in a sea of decidedly less colorful dwellings.

“I think you’ll agree that the world is a better place when things are a little bit different,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a note attached to the book.

Judging just from the steady stream of communiques from the world’s largest online retailer, you’d be none the wiser about what Bezos is talking about. Mix in some reporting and some reading of the tea leaves, and the phone starts to take shape. Tune back in on Wednesday for the full reveal.

For more on Amazon and the up-coming phone, here’s my appearance on NPR’s “Here and Now” radio program:

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