Online book seller Amazon hit the headlines with the release of its smartphone yesterday. While there was a round of applause across the pond there are signs that Amazon has not really learnt much from its tablet experience. The phone is ok, if you want to lock yourself into Amazon, in the same way that people did with their Kindle Fire tablets.
The phone comes with a Firefly button which normally you would hope would bring you access to a popular science fiction programme which was killed off before its time. However instead it flogs you Amazon music, video. It lets the user ‘identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products—and take action in seconds.’
So the idea is that you can go into a shop scan products, like books or whatever, and it will look them up on Amazon and offer you the chance to buy them. This should get you some dirty looks at your local bookstore, but it will also mean that Amazon can hit you with adverts.
Amazon is hoping that the phone’s deep connection to the Prime subscription service will make it useful. The Fire Phone is rather a gateway into its millions of books, movies and music on-demand, making the device key to a very appealing package. However this is losing sight of what we use a phone for. Now while this sort of stuff might be handy for a tablet it is less useful for a phone.
Amazon has gone smaller than expected with the Fire coming in at 4.7 inches, larger than the iPhone but nowhere near the size of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and phones from Sony and HTC. This is weird because Amazon is pushing services that need a bigger screen.
The other thing that Amazon did was it opted only for a US launch. This was what stuffed up the Kindle which took years to make an appearance in the lucrative EU market. It will get to the EU eventually but once it does it will be a rival for the hyped up iPhone and Galaxy 6s.
It is also expensive -- $649 or $749 unlocked depending on capacity. The Fire Phone as a high-end device right up there with the flagship phones from Samsung and Apple and competition with those guys is a real non-starter. Amazon did well in tablets because it subsidised the product heavily.
In short there is nothing to see here move on please. Amazon has made a cock up.