The technology world is on fire over, yes, Amazon’s Fire Phone. It’s the first-ever 3D smartphone, though it may behave as much like a mobile vending machine as it does a mobile phone.
The Amazon Fire Phone sports a 4.7-inch IPS screen, a 13-megapixel camera with image stabilization, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, 2 GB memory, and unlimited photo storage on Amazon Cloud Drive.
AT&T has the exclusive, selling the device at $199 for 32 GB or $299 for 64 GB of internal storage with a two-year contract. At launch, consumers can also get a free one-year subscription to Amazon Prime. The phone is available for pre-order now, with deliveries scheduled to begin July 25.
No Need To Beat Apple
We turned to independent telecom analyst Jeff Kagan for his take on Amazon’s Fire Phone. He told us the device is less about competing with iPhone and Galaxy and more about helping Amazon continue to build loyalty, solidify customer relationships -- and sell more products and services.
“The question is, a few years from now, will this Fire Phone be remembered as one of the wireless industry's key moments," like when Apple's first iPhone was introduced? "Or will this not be as big a smartphone competitor, but another way for Amazon.com customers to shop?” Kagan asked.
As Kagan sees it, the Fire Phone does not have to win the competitive battle with the iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S line. That’s just not the purpose for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos rolling out the company’s first-ever smartphone. Instead, Bezos is all about the e-commerce. And just like Amazon's Kindle e-reader made it easier to buy books, Amazon's Fire Phone will make it easier for consumers to buy more products from the e-tailing giant.
“Not every new smartphone is a big hit. However, I think Amazon will be successful, at least to a point,” Kagan said. “They will succeed with one slice of the pie. Their tens of millions of existing Kindle customers will buy plenty of these over the first year. Then we’ll have to see if they can expand beyond that first slice.”
Nevertheless, Apple and Samsung have the lion’s share of the market. That means Amazon is going to have to steal market share from industry behemoths, or at least from the struggling BlackBerry, or Nokia, or LG, in order to expand beyond its loyal following of e-reader and tablet users.
On the plus side, Amazon does have some competitive differentiators, like Dynamic Perspective and Firefly. Dynamic Perspective uses a new 3D sensor system to respond to the way you hold, view, and move Fire. It promises to make possible one-handed gestures, immersive apps and games, and real-time updates.
Firefly combines Amazon’s catalog of physical and digital content with image, text and audio recognition technologies that identify Web and e-mail addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes -- and over 100 million items including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products. You can see product details, add items to your Wish List or order them on Amazon.com.
Another Facebook Phone?
“I think this Fire Phone will give Amazon.com the ability to grow in television, music, radio and so on, more quickly,” Kagan said. “Amazon Kindle customers spend more money and buy more content than customers of other hardware like the iPhone and Galaxy.”
Kagan’s conclusion: The Fire Phone will be a success in the short-term. He’s not sure about the long-term prospects, but he doesn’t expect an all-out failure like the Facebook phone because of Amazon’s existing customer base.
“They will be successful, the question is how successful,” Kagan said. “Winning in the highly competitive smartphone market is much different than winning in Amazon’s traditional markets.”