Online giant Amazon is said to be venturing into yet another market - smartphones.
The corporate juggernaut that started out with books and soon moved into music, video, cloud computing and Kindle e-readers is hosting a launch event in Seattle, Washington, today, and reports indicate the product will be an Amazon phone - perhaps one with multiple cameras that can produce 3D photos.
Amazon declined to comment, but analysts said the goal was almost certainly a device designed to get customers to buy more things from Amazon and might include an Amazon shopping app or other features tied in tightly to the products the company sells.
"It's Amazon. That says to me the core value proposition is going to be about shopping," said Ramon Llamas of research firm International Data Corporation.
Amazon's phone comes at a time when the nation's largest e-commerce company is at a crossroads.
Its stock, which surged for years despite narrow profits, has dropped 18% in 2014 to about 326 dollars (£192.80), in part because investors have been losing patience with its habit of ploughing revenue back into new ventures.
Analysts said the move into smartphones was a bit of a head-scratcher, since the company was a late entrant into the highly competitive market.
For all its success with other products, Amazon will be hard-pressed to compete with Samsung and Apple, the number one and two mobile phone companies in the world.
Globally, Samsung led mobile phone manufacturers with 31% of the 288 million units shipped in the first quarter, followed by Apple at 15%. In the US, Apple dominates with more than 37% of the 34 million units shipped, with Samsung close to 29%.
Some analysts have speculated that the 3D feature might tie into an Amazon shopping app. Shoppers might be able to use the phone to take a 3D picture of a product in a store, then search for the object on Amazon and buy it online.
Analysts said the phone could also come with a data plan that could let owners use Amazon services without using up any data.
"Anything that generates more repeat orders and more frequent purchases is probably part of what they intend to do with this," said RW Baird analyst Colin Sebastian.
To compete, Amazon needs more than an expected 3D viewing feature, which has been tried before by smartphone makers like HTC and LG, Mr Llamas said.
Competing on price would not help if it left people with the impression that the device was cheaply built, and getting customers to buy a phone without being able to touch it first could prove difficult, he said.
"If they sell it only online, as Amazon sells many of its goods and products, that could be a challenge," Mr Llamas said.
Here is a look at the impact of Amazon in music, video and other markets it has entered.
Amazon.com started as an online bookstore in 1995 in CEO Jeff Bezos' garage in Bellevue, Washington state. As more and more bookstores have closed, Amazon is now believed to be the nation's largest bookseller, with an estimated 30% of a total book market that PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates hit 34.9 billion dollars (£23bn) last year, and 60% of an e-book market that PwC pegged at 7.9 billion dollars (£4.6bn).
Mike Shatzkin, founder and CEO of book industry consultancy The Idea Logical, said book publishers viewed Amazon with "a mixture of dependence and fear".
"They can't live without Amazon's sales, and they can't live with Amazon's market power," he said.
Amazon is a major player in music. It has sold compact discs by mail since 1998 and digital downloads since 2007.
Russ Crupnick, managing partner of consulting company MusicWatch, pegs Amazon's share at 18% of the 2.8 billion-dollar (£1.6bn) digital download market in the US last year and 23% of the 2.1 billion-dollar (£1.2bn) market for CDs. In comparison, Apple's iTunes commands about 67% of digital downloads and does not sell CDs. Amazon is the only competitor to Apple of any real size.
Amazon last week launched a music streaming service that makes more than 1 million tracks available to members of its 99 dollars-a-year (£58.50) Amazon Prime subscription plan.
Amazon took over the e-book market soon after its first Kindle was launched in 2007. It took a big step by introducing its full-colour Kindle Fire tablet in 2011, with a price starting at 199 dollars (£118) and a screen just 7ins diagonally.
"At the time, none of the other vendors had something similar," said Jitesh Ubrani, an IDC analyst.
But since then, others have matched the size and price, especially Samsung, which has made big gains. Amazon's share of global shipments has slid from more than 7% in 2012 to 2% in the first quarter of the year.
"Other vendors have cheaper, better products," Mr Ubrani said.
FILMS AND TV SHOWS
Amazon is a large retailer of DVDs and Blu-ray discs and also offers online rentals and purchases of digital video products.
Amazon has 15% of the 1.8 billion-dollar (£1bn) US market for movie and TV show rentals and downloads, trailing Apple's 58%, according to Dan Cryan, an analyst with market research firm IHS.
As for subscription video streaming, Cryan estimates Amazon accounted for 15% of the 43.6 million active US subscribers of streaming video plans through its Prime Instant Video service. Netflix accounted for 73% of active streaming subscribers, while Hulu Plus had 12%.
Amazon essentially created the marketplace for what is known as cloud infrastructure as a service in 2006 with Amazon Web Services. That is where it allows its servers to be used by third parties to host the data and applications they need to run mobile apps, websites and other services.
As the overwhelming market leader, Amazon maintains five times the computing capacity of the next 14 service providers combined, according to Gartner analyst Lydia Leong. Amazon is aggressive with price cuts and innovation, which will probably keep competitors like Microsoft from catching up for years, Ms Leong said.
Amazon sold 40.8 billion dollars' (£24.1bn) worth of goods in North America last year. That is 17% of all e-commerce, according to Anne Zybowski, vice president of retail insights at research firm Kantar Retail.