There’s a new player in the mobile market. With media bluster Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, introduced the Fire Phone to the world on Wednesday, June 18th.
Fire Phone Stats
- 4.7 inch screen
- 13 megapixel camera
- Stereo speakers
- Quad Core 2.2 GHz processor
- AT&T is exclusive carrier for year one
- Unlimited photo storage on Amazon’s Cloud Drive
- Mayday 24×7 support connected to AT&T for billing and network issues
- One-year membership to Amazon Prime
- Shipping date: July 25th
- Price: $199 for a 32GB model or $299 for the 64GB model
Amazon Shopping Gets Even More Intuitive
One of Fire Phone’s coolest features is the Firefly app. While not directly stated, Android users may recognize Firefly as an extension of Amazon’s Flow app. At its core Firefly uses the onboard camera to identify products by label, book cover, artwork, and even fruits and vegetables. None of this is too surprising given Amazon’s retail foundation. Firefly also knows what to do with barcodes, QR codes, phone numbers, URLs, and emails from text on posters and other documents. Amazon says Firefly will recognize over 100 million products including 245,000 movies and TV shows, 160 live TV channels, 35 million songs, and 70 products . . . and yes, you might have already guessed, once a product is identified a user will get the option to purchase that item directly from Amazon.
A Firefly SDK is already available featuring support for text, audio, and image identifiers. MyFitnessPal will make it easier for users to keep a food diary by providing nutritional information for products recognized by Firefly. Vivino’s popular wine aficionado app will incorporate label recognition. iHeartRadio will let you fine tune your playlist by listening. I’m hoping that BeerAdvocate follows suit. Just think what this could do for identifying auto parts!
3-D Comes to the Small Screen
The most unique feature is the Dynamic Perspective System, a 3D screen utilizing four corner-mounted cameras and infrared LEDs to track a user’s head, and adjust the screen for multiple purposes. Tilting the phone allows users to ‘peek’ around a map, reveal off canvas menus, or manipulate animation with one-handed gestures. While interesting, Dynamic Perspective is only available on one phone, on one carrier, so developers may be slow to adopt the technology.
Fire Phone is powered by FireOS 3.5, a modified version of Android Jellybean 4.2.2, adding animated lock screens, and replacing traditional Android buttons with twist/tilt gesture and swipe controls to open menus. Unfortunately, FireOS lacks Google services like Chrome, Maps, Hangouts, Chat, and most importantly Play Store.
Due to the premium price point, consumers will compare the Fire Phone to top tier competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhones. Apple and Google die hards aren’t likely to abandon their devices for version one of an untested platform. Fire Phone is an excellent candidate for loyal Amazon customers who aren’t addicted to specific apps on their current phones. I just don’t know how many are out there.
I strongly believe that great hardware drives initial sales, and the Fire Phone is a premium device, but a robust app store drives long term adoption. The Amazon Appstore is nowhere close to Google Play or Apple’s App Store. Android developers can publish their apps to the Amazon store with minor tweaks. History shows that doesn’t usually happen. Take Windows Phone for example. Microsoft has an enormous user base, some excellent devices with a smooth OS, and while they will almost certainly become a major player, it’s been a long, tough road. Does Amazon have the staying power?