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Amazon Seeking Early Adopter Devices

LAS VEGAS – Taking advantage of its inherently upscale and tech savvy customer base, will begin emphasizing early adopter products within its CE offering this year.

CEO Jeff Bezos said here during CES that the company plans to make a “big push” in 2003 to offer cutting-edge products that represent a huge leap in technology or are “qualitatively or quantitatively different by a factor of 10.”

Bezos noted that his company’s emphasis at the show was to seek out new electronic exotica and to work with manufacturers on launch dates in order to allow online afficionados to pre-order the products.

“We have the world’s largest concentration of early adopters and can communicate with them,” he said, citing Amazon’s proprietary personalization technology. Amazon will create an “early adopter score” for target customers, which would help determine which products would be included in tailored offers.

Amazon’s VP of consumer electronics Frank Sadowski cited Samsung’s new hard disk Digital Gadget and networking products for home entertainment as the kind of early adopter devices the e-tailer would seek.

Amazon’s high-end emphasis will also carry over into TV. Although HDTVs by Samsung, Zenith and Toshiba already represent “the majority” of Amazon’s television sales, Sadowski said it shipped its first plasma unit last month and would expand its selection of flat-panel displays and HD brands this year.

In other Amazon news, Bezos said that the company is talking to vendors about selling direct to consumers through its site, and has already conducted tests of the business model in which orders would either be drop-shipped by Amazon or fulfilled by the manufacturer.

He added that the company’s partnerships with brick-and-mortar retailers are “working out well,” and described the percentage of Amazon’s CE sales via Circuit City, Target, Office Depot and J&R Music World as “substantial.”