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November 25, 2015

The Fire Phone is Really Dead

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

fire_phone

One of the coolest gizmos I had the pleasure of using and writing a book about was the Amazon Fire Phone. It was fun! Amazon created a nifty device, unlike any other phone. They offered great support. The phone had superb features I’ve not seen before or since. So what happened?

To cut to the chase: The Fire phone is no longer available. Amazon dropped it. You can find used Fire phones, but otherwise it’s as dead as the Microsoft Zune player. That’s lamentable, because I thought it was so unique and wonderful.

Amazon’s hardware history delightfully weird. They sell the tremendously successful Kindle tablet. The Fire Stick is a nifty dongle for your HDMI TV, especially if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber.

Then there’s the weird cylinder, the Amazon Echo. I suppose someone up on the totem pole loves the Echo more than he loved the Fire Phone, because that silly device is still around. It’s even on the Amazon home page from time to time. And I just can’t figure out the thing or what it does. It’s like a flower vase that talks to you. That’s what 6,000 years of civilization has lead up to: “Hello, Amazon cylinder. Because I’m too lazy to look outside, tell me what the weather is like.”

Worse: Apparently the Echo listens to you all the time. I’m sure the spy agencies love that.

When I wrote Amazon Fire Phone For Dummies last year, I figured the book’s success would parallel the device. I had no control over that success, so the ball was entirely in Amazon’s court.

Amazon was very cooperative while I wrote the book. They sent me a phone and provided me with tech support and all that jazz. The phone’s hardware and software were solid, but the one issue I had was how committed Amazon was to the device.

If Amazon, like Apple, kept pushing and refining and spending money on marketing, then their phone would have been a hit. They just didn’t do that. In fact, after the first couple of months, the Fire phone dropped from Amazon’s home page. They weren’t successful at getting Verizon (the largest US mobile carrier) to host the phone.

My thinking is that if they really undercut the price, they might have gotten a toehold on the market. But they didn’t! The Fire phone retailed for the same price as a new iPhone or Droid.

I’d love to see the Fire phone revised, especially with a serious commitment from Amazon. I just don’t think it will happen. That’s sad because it was a sweet little phone.

2 Comments

  1. Could you describe what made the Fire phone unique to Android and iOS? My impression of it is that it is just a device for buying Amazon media content

    Comment by BradC — December 3, 2015 @ 4:29 pm

  2. Well, your guess is correct. The unique features on the Fire Phone were keyed directly to the Amazon shopping experience. The Firefly app specifically is used to snap a picture of something you want to buy. It was pretty cool, as I recall.

    The Fire phone was based on Android, but it didn’t follow the Android paradigm for the Home screen or notifications. It actually worked a bit better, but they created a unique user experience. Outside of the common Android apps (Maps, Gmail, etc.), I’m guessing that it was just too unique for the general public. And absent Amazon’s long-term commitment, the results are predicable.

    Comment by admin — December 5, 2015 @ 10:08 am

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