Being the dominant sales company, Amazon decided to release their own smartphone in July of 2014. The thinking behind this release was simple, release a device that had all the most common Amazon services built into it, to make it easier to shop for music, videos, and anything else you might need. The concept sounds great, and it really did work well, especially if you were an Amazon Prime Member. You could have all your Audible Audiobooks, Prime Music, Prime Photos, Shopping, Videos, Books, and Newstand just one swipe away! I thoroughly enjoyed this feature. As a matter of fact, I would go on to buy 3 Amazon Fire Phones while they still existed. Amazon could have had a real winner on their hands, had they only done a few things different. Let’s dive into these.
This is the easiest bullet point to knock Amazon on. Amazon launched this phone at $650 unlocked, off contract! If you went to AT&T and signed a contract, you could get it for the (still outrageous) price of $200. At this launch price, there would be nowhere near enough people to pass up on Samsung or Apple devices in favor of the very new, very unsure Fire Phone. I have to believe that someone at the Amazon table brought this fact up, and although was voted down at the time, is laughing inwardly about how stupid this move was. I feel as though they have since learned their lesson and have adjusted their business tactics to accommodate. You can now buy an Amazon Fire tablet for only $49! This is what they should have done with the Fire Phone. Sell the phone so ridiculously cheap that a lot more people would take a chance on it. It would have been a very easy thing afterward to get them to take out a prime membership to access some advanced services (like prime music and video) which would have paid for the phone in the long run. In order to compete with the big guys, you have to get yourself out to the market. You just can’t do that charging the same amount of money. Most people who own the Fire Phone and love it like I do, waited until 2016 and bought it for $100-$150 unlocked. I literally used it over every phone I had, because it connected the dots of my prime membership and my handheld device.
Should you visit any of the Amazon Fire Phone development threads over at XDA or Android Central, you will find many users that held on desperately to hope that Amazon would update the Fire Phone software to 5.x. I truly have never seen a more dedicated lot, waiting, hoping, contacting Amazon for any glimpse of support. Seeing as sales plummeted, Amazon gave up hope on the Fire Phone and started moving its support to Tablets and Prime Exclusive phones instead. I can’t speak for the rest of the crowd, but I for one have never purchased a Prime Exclusive phone, and never will. However, as I mentioned above, I have purchased 3 Fire Phones! How hard would it have been to give us another update to ensure all our apps continued to work with our phone? The meager offerings of the Amazon App Store were already insufficient, so most of us sideloaded the Google Play Store on to our device to get by. Now many of those apps will not work correctly as our version of Android is out of date. This is a great way to lose support Amazon, especially from those that supported you the most. We took a chance on you, and you let us down.
Every commercial that I saw about the Amazon Fire phone involved children using the phone. Yes, this is a very kid friendly device, with parental controls etc., but this device is much better suited as a device for Prime Members. Think about Apple iTunes and when the iPhone first came out. You bought all of your iTunes music and you either had to have an iPhone or an iPod to listen to it. Amazon gave us a device that built in all of their services (I know there are now apps for all of these services) seamlessly, as though they are preloaded into the device. This should have been marketed exclusively to Prime Members, OR as an incentive for people to sign up for Prime. How easy would it have been to say “With the purchase of a one year prime membership, get an exclusive Amazon Fire Phone for only $50!”. I feel as though, should it have been marketed as Google Markets the Pixel for their services, the Fire Phone would have grabbed much more attention.
The Amazon Fire Phone was an outstanding device, marketed to the wrong crowd, and released at a ridiculous price. The phone actually delivered on the initial experience, bringing all your Amazon services to bear seamlessly at your finger tips. The follow up development – huge disappointment and failure. However, I still feel they are missing the market for an integrated device of their own. A little research discovered that since 2014, despite Amazon’s failure, there have been nearly 4,500 search inquiries about an “Amazon Fire Phone 2”. People wanted to see what Amazon would learn from their mistakes, how they could make it better, and what the new product could do. Sadly, we will never know. It is easier for Amazon to take a loss, scrap the project, and turn their attention elsewhere. It just leaves me thinking, “What could have been?”
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