The Amazon Fire Phone… Defining new needs?
The Amazon Fire Phone… Catering to consumers’ needs or defining them anew?
The last decade has seen an all out battle between Samsung and Apple in cornering the premium end of the smartphone market.
Every year, each has been outdoing the other in introducing newer and better features. Upgraded hardware specs, faster processors, better cameras, better UIs, improved voice recognition technology… the list is endless.
Against this background, introducing a new phone, that stands out as different, is a challenge. Many have tried. Most have failed.
So when Amazon announced the new Fire Phone, everyone wondered what they would do, to be ‘different’.
What better way to make a stand, than to introduce a service that no one else is in a position to offer?
Leveraging their strength as the world’s largest online retailer seems to have been the starting point for development of their new phone.
So what have they created?
Keeping the specs aside, what’s interesting is the introduction of Firefly.
This feature allows the user to point the phone at almost anything. With superior scanning abilities, the phone would immediately identify the number or product and provide you with options.
So if you see a number plastered on a billboard, you need just point at it, and it will recognize and offer to dial it for you.
Likewise, if you point it at a product, it would scan the product or bar code and throw up an Amazon review of the product along with it’s availability, shipping details and best price on Amazon.
While the ability to recognize a number is a ‘good to have’ feature, it’s a really poor cover for what the service really does. It reads product names, and bar codes and links back to the Amazon database to provide you with a rating and a price for the same.
What they are banking on is that this new phone will link in to their retail network and have people flocking to their ‘store’ to purchase anything and everything they see.
So you will pay a bomb to buy the phone. And then you will (they hope) keep paying by purchasing off the Amazon network.
Is it a good idea?
Yes! Seeing the success of services like LikeToKnow.It which allows Instagram users to purchase the product being showcased in a picture, the Firefly service reflects a trend of today’s, ‘MUST HAVE NOW’ generation.
However, the second and bigger challenge they will face, is what Blackberry faced a few years back.
The Fire Phone OS is pretty much a modified Android OS, so one would expect developers to easily migrate their apps onto the Amazon Fire OS.
Blackberry was in the same position a few years ago, allowing developers to migrate their Android apps to the Blackberry platform. However not too many took up the offer.
Amazon would need to provide a compelling enough reason for developers to embrace their new platform. Which means a large enough base of users.
But users would buy the Kindle Fire phone only when there are enough apps.
So, what comes first? The developers or the users?
Will the Amazon Fire Phone leave a mark on the smartphone market? Only time will tell.
A few years ago if people told you that Siri could be a reason for someone to sell their kidneys or an Octa Core processor would be enough reason to invest a month’s salary on a Samsung S3 / S4 / S5 I’d say they’re stupid.
I’ve eaten my own words since.
Let’s wait. And watch.