Recently, Amazon held a much talked about event where they announced a product that has been rumored for quite a while. Yes, after years of speculation, Jeff Bezos walked on stage in Seattle to announce Amazon’s newest flagship product, the long awaited, Fire Phone.
There were plenty of rumors swirling in advance of Wednesday’s announcement. Some speculations were confirmed; including the much discussed 3D display.
Although the Dynamic Display on the Fire Phone is impressive, it is not necessarily ground breaking. iOS7 and Android have already experimented in the space of advanced accelerometer assisted parallax scrolling and leveraging front facing cameras for user interaction. However, it will be interesting to see how party developers will leverage this as Amazon has opened the SDK to Dynamic Display, which would help bring new interpretations of the technology to the marketplace.
One storyline that was not discussed at the Seattle event was the equally speculated Prime Data Plan. Although only rumored, a “Prime Data Plan” could be a truly unique offering and a potential game changer in the mobile space. It was speculated that the Prime Data Plan was going to be the first mainstream rollout of AT&Ts polarizing Sponsored Data Program. This program would allow marketers to subsidize access to brand content so users would not have to use their mobile data pools to access them. With mobile data becoming a growing commodity around the world, Amazon potentially offering free access to their service would be a boon for the already strong mobile commerce player. But with growing net neutrality debates, data providers allowing big brands to subsidizing data access has been generating mixed reviews from the public.
So, amongst all the rumors and buzz, ultimately, why did Amazon come out with a phone?
There is certainly tough competition in the marketplace, with Apple and Samsung holding over 70% of the smartphone handset marketshare in the US. Amazon’s app store also lags behind its competitors. The Android-based Amazon operating system can leverage the Kindle app store, but its over 240,000 apps are eclipsed by the over one million apps both the Google and Apple app stores each possess.
But within the disparity, Amazon has a plan. Yes, their app store is lacking, but with intention. Amazon uses its sophisticated recommendation and curation engine to highlight specific apps for users and have higher barrier to entry for developers to submit to their store then Google, who have none. This is actually a good thing for developers, who have the potential to see more revenue per user via amazon apps then they do other platforms.
Amazon has invested greatly in its ecosystem, serving best in class customer service, cloud-computing services, and entertainment offers. The Amazon phone is a part of Amazon’s greater ecosystem development. The Amazon phone can serve as a flagship entry point for users to access the wide breath of Amazon offerings, from Prime services, Cloud Storage (which Amazon is giving away for free to Amazon Fire Phone users), and most importantly commerce.
Firefly is one feature that Amazon announced that epitomizes the Fire Phones connection to commerce. This Shazam like feature can scan products in the real world for users to gain more information on them, and possibly purchase on Amazon.
This tool is an evolution of previous Amazon services and will serve as an ultimate bridge between physical and digital environment. This marquee showrooming tool further supports Amazon’s position as a commerce giant and shows they are committed to the idea of continuous commerce, where the shopper’s journey is anything but linear.
In closing, Amazon’s newest platform is a testament to its offering and gives them full end-to-end control of their ecosystem to enable the users for all of their needs, from storage, to entertainment, and most importantly commerce. It is to be seen how the general public will react to this new device, what are your thoughts on how the Amazon phone will fair in todays ever evolving, yet slightly crowded mobile landscape?