Amazon has been going through some growing pains, to say the least, with their first ever smartphone. The AT&T exclusive provided a barrier for mass adoption and the $699 unlocked price tag scared off most early adopters. The Fire Phone is basically relevant only in the US, due to a number of core Amazon services not working, such as Prime Instant Video. Things are looking so bleak, that during the last financial earnings report a cool $180 million worth of phones were sitting unsold. A few days ago Amazon announced an unlocked version of the phone dropping down in price to $199, will people start buying it now?
The Fire Phone has a number of things going for it, I really like the Shazam style Firefly service that will ID music you are listening to and pull up info, such as where to buy it. It also will scan the covers of a novel or a can of beans and let you know the price on Amazon. If you have ever owned a Kindle e-Reader or tablet, all of your purchases will be preserved on the phone.
The one drawback of the Fire Phone is the fact it is only being sold in one of the worlds most saturated markets.In contrast the OnePlus One is selling out everywhere, you seriously need private invites just to buy it. The success of the Kindle and the Fire Tablet were only assured once markets like the United Kingdom, Canada and Europe started to embrace them. The hardware itself isn’t a huge revenue earner, its the content. The phone arena is a hard sell if you are trying to make good profit margins both on the hardware AND content.
The Fire Phone at $199 for an unlocked version will finally allow people in the US to give it a go. International customers won’t get a great experience due to movies, television shows and newspaper apps being incompatible. Everything else though, like audiobooks, apps and eBooks will work perfectly.
I think the Fire Phone at $199 for the unlocked version is still too much. They need to drop the price down to $99 for people to start embracing it en masse. Amazon just needs to take the Kindle mentality, break even on the hardware and make people loyal to the brand.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.