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What The Industry is Saying About Amazon’s Fire Phone

Written on
Jun 19, 2014 

ADOTAS – Amazon yesterday became the first ecommerce player to introduce its own smartphone: Fire.

What sets fire apart from other such devices are two new breakthrough technologies: Dynamic Perspective and Firefly. Dynamic Perspective uses a new sensor system to respond to the way the user holds, views, and moves the device, enabling experiences not possible on other smartphones. Firefly quickly recognizes things in the real world – web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, movies, music, and millions of products — and let’s the user take action in seconds with the press of a button.

Fire also comes equipped with the following Amazon exclusive services:

  • Mayday is now available over 3G and 4G, in addition to Wi-Fi. Users simply hit the Mayday button in quick actions and an Amazon expert will appear via live video to co-pilot you through any feature on the device. Amazon experts are able to draw on the screen, talk you through how to do a task, or do it for you. Mayday is available 24×7, 365 days a year, and it’s free. Amazon’s reported response time goal for Mayday is 15 seconds or less — since launch,the company claims, the average response time has been 9.75 seconds.
  • ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) predicts which movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and prepares them for instant playback before the user even hits play.
  • X-Ray helps users  get more from books, music, movies, and TV shows. It enables the user to explore the bones of a book, including characters, ideas and background with a single tap on the screen; quickly access IMDb for trivia on movies and TV shows; and, with X-Ray for Music, see synchronized lyrics display while listening to a song.
  • Second Screen lets users “fling” TV shows and movies from Fire phone to Fire TV, PlayStation or any other Miracast-enabled device. Second Screen turns the user’s enabled TV into the primary screen and frees up Fire phone to provide playback controls and a customized display for X-Ray, all without leaving the TV show or movie you’re watching.
  • Free unlimited cloud storage of photos taken with Fire, automatically backed-up wirelessly and available across Amazon devices and Cloud Drive apps so users have access anywhere.

Fire is available exclusively on AT&T, and for a limited time, 12 months of Amazon’s Prime service will be included in the purchase price — $199-$649 for the base 32GB model, depending on the user’s service agreement (a 64GB model is available for $100 more).

“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand — instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “The Firefly button lets you 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. We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the device; we use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation, and gestures that actually work.

“And this is only the beginning,” added Bezos. “The most powerful inventions are the ones that empower others to unleash their creativity. That’s why today we are launching the Dynamic Perspective SDK and the Firefly SDK. We can’t wait to see how developers surprise us.”

The ad tech community wasted little time in weighing in on the news. Here’s what some industry leaders had to say:

Gene Signorini, VP mobile insights at Mobiquity (@esignorini)

“Amazon will likely approach the smartphone market in the same way it did when it launched its own KindleFire tablet, which is to use the device as a complimentary product for existing services. They will likely be targeting its existing base of Prime customers who utilize digital media – particularly TV shows and movies – as early adopters of its device. The timing of Amazon’s announcement last week of music streaming for Prime customers was no coincidence.

“To displace other competitive devices, Amazon faces an uphill challenge. Apps will definitely be critical, so therefore attracting developers by doing things like providing an easy means for porting existing Android apps is an important element. Amazon is banking on the fact that it can leverage its powerful ecosystem that includes customers, retailers, and content to make a successful entry into smartphones. Some competing retailers may decide to participate in this ecosystem by developing apps for an Amazon device.  Some will refrain, but Amazon hasn’t been afraid to go head-to-head with larger competitors when need be.

“The fact of the matter is that the big five ‘smart’ ecosystems – Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Facebook – are all encroaching on each other’s territories, as well as stepping on the toes of existing or potential partners. Mobile is certainly ushering in a new wave of ‘coopetition’ and an Amazon smartphone will shake up the landscape once again.”


Craig Palli, CSO of Fiksu@cpalli

“Success for the Amazon smartphone will require both a critical mass of consumers, and a critical mass of apps. As the largest digital retailer in the world, they have access to an incredible volume of consumers, and with 240K apps in their app store already, there’s a pretty good base for them to work from. While that’s only a fifth of the size of Apple’s and Google’s app stores, sheer volume of apps isn’t the most important indicator of success. Acquiring users who take meaningful actions – and spend – within apps will be the ultimate test of Amazon’s smartphone strategy. Some early indications are pointing to monetization levels that are on par with iOS, which could be a great sign for Amazon.

“Until there’s a significant user base to compete for, it’ll be hard to judge the competitiveness in the Amazon App Store, but we can make a couple of assumptions. One, since it’s built on the Android platform, the rankings will be based on a complex combination of factors including download volume and velocity, ratings, reviews, uninstall rates, engagement rates, and the like, as opposed to a more straightforward ranking based on downloads. Second, in this new app store, app developers and publishers will be in a land grab to capture new, highly loyal users for their apps. Everyone will be starting from scratch with these devices, so re-engagement isn’t likely to be the first priority. Finding ways to bring in users who are more likely to become long-term users, though, will be critical.

“It is crucial that Amazon wins over developers, but it’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem; a mobile OS doesn’t get users if it doesn’t have apps, and if it doesn’t have users, developers don’t bother making apps. B ut Amazon appears to be heading the right direction. With the Android-based OS underneath it, development for Amazon-specific devices doesn’t involve starting from scratch, and so developers can open up to additional audiences without too much additional work, giving Amazon extra leverage here. If the Amazon phone is compelling enough and priced attractively enough to start building up a significant user base, you’ll quickly see developers including Amazon versions of their apps right behind iOS and Google Play versions.”

Albert Lai, CTO of Media, Brightcove

“The Amazon Phone has the opportunity to complete Amazon’s digital enablement of the consumer. If we look at what’s been happening with Apple, Microsoft, Roku, Netflix, and others (e.g., Aereo), many of those companies are competing for eyeballs in the living room. However, Amazon has traditionally competed for a different role: owning the household. As a purveyor of digital and physical goods and services (including the recent Prime music service), Amazon has a distinctly unique capability to up-sell, cross-sell, and provide offerings in price or feature competitive bundles. The smartphone form factor fills a gap for Amazon as they can now truly embrace the mobile lifestyle of the consumer in the house and outside.

“Amazon is continuing to bifurcate the Android ecosystem (similar to what they previously did with Kindle and the strategy of Samsung). By owning their own smartphone platform, Amazon can create a proprietary platform that not only provides integrated Amazon API services (commerce, data, services, content), but also creates a platform for Amazon to promote, curate, and cultivate apps. App developers should see this as an enticing opportunity to target Amazon’s consumer, who is trained to purchase and consume both digital and physical goods/services.

“Amazon has a unique customer base and now has multiple physical touch points within the home through a proprietary platform (Phone, Kindle). It’s likely that Amazon has more information about the purchasing and consumption behavior of its customer base than others do about theirs. The key for Amazon will be how it can streamline the engagement of customers with the app experiences and build momentum.”

Michael Ni, CMO at Avangate

“You see the signs around you every day, whether it is listening to your Internet radio, virtually hailing your Uber limo ride, finding and paying a flat-fee for legal document creation instead of by the hour: we are surrounded by services. They have become so pervasive, we don’t even think of them as we use them. Services are being productized and are now more accessible and easy to consume.

“At the same time, starting from when the salesperson at Best Buy tries to upsell you on the insurance (or what they call ‘the cheese’), or paying for that service contract you got for ‘free’ from your telco provider with the latest smart phone, or the fact that Amazon pitches the Kindle or even the new 3D smart phone as a ‘platform’ for content and services … products are increasingly an excuse to sell more services —services that are beyond just one sale, but an ongoing and more predictable revenue relationship with each customer.”

Benny Arbel, CEO of myThings

“The potential of mobile as driver for shopping is immense. Fire by Amazon is an ambitious attempt to realize much more of this potential –  by bringing the store to the consumer rather than the consumer to the store with user-friendly product recognition embedded within the phone, which is easily leading to transaction.”






Mike Daly is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years of experience in publishing. He began his career in 1983 at The News of Paterson, N.J., a long-since defunct daily paper, where at age 22 he was promoted to the position of Editorial Page Editor. Since then he has served in managerial capacities with several news organizations, including Arts Weekly Inc. and North Jersey Media Group in New Jersey and Examiner Media in New York. His work has been honored on numerous occasions by the New Jersey Press Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.

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