Amazon Now Hawks Wireless Plans, Phones

Amazon has already taken the book world by storm with the Kindle. Now the e-retailer is taking on the wireless market with its new Web site, AmazonWireless. AmazonWireless, currently in beta, is a partnership between AT&T, Verizon, and Amazon that offers an inventory of more than 130 models of phones, including the BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Storm (sorry, no iPhone) plus a slew of carrier plans, all in the same straightforward shopping style Amazon customers know.

AmazonWireless is as simple and easy to navigate as the Amazon home page. You can search for phones by carrier, phone feature, price, color, and brand. There's also free two-day shipping on all orders so you don't have to wait around for your new phone. (Click on the image to see a full page)

But possibly the best part of AmazonWireless is that it streamlines the rebate process. Everyone hates dropping $300 on a new phone, mailing in documents, and receiving a check in the mail. AmazonWireless cuts out that middleman and processes rebates online instantly.

After dropping a Samsung Eternity a867 into my shopping cart, I was led through a three-step process of selecting phone, plan, and additional service options. Three steps in less than three minutes. But there are downsides to something this quick and easy. Customers will likely shop with the device in mind rather than focusing on the service plans, which could lead to frustrating two-year contracts. Also, without the ability to physically hold the phone and take your time picking the ripest fruit, you may be disappointed in your impulse purchase. Then again, that's what Internet shopping is all about.

Amazon hopes to add more phones and service providers to the mix as the site matures.

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